When the phone rang I just knew that it was the doctor. My stomach started doing somersaults, I could barely swallow because my mouth and throat were so dry while my hand shook as it hovered over the phone. I was terrified to pick it up…terrified of what I might hear. Picking up I couldn’t breathe…until the doc said ‘All lymph nodes have tested negative…your prognosis is very good.’
Jaco could tell by the look on my face that the news was of the best kind. When I put the phone down I was crying and laughing at the same time. I finally felt the black cloud that had been hovering over my head for the past two weeks lift and move away. The heaviness on my chest disappeared and I felt a relief and elation that I still today cannot put words to. The girls came running over to me to ask what was wrong because of my tears. I crouched down and for the first time in a week I took all three of them in my arms and hugged them for all I was worth despite how sore it was saying, ‘It’s okay girls, mommy’s just crying because she’s so happy.’
Of course as so often happens in situations like this, the relief and happiness that I felt was somewhat overshadowed because in the recesses of my mind was lurking the fact that my treatment was far from over. I still had to be referred to an Oncologist who was yet to review my case and determine what sort of treatment I would have to follow next, if any.
The following week sitting in the Oncologists office, I was not a happy girl to find out that I would have to do 6 months of adjuvant chemotherapy. To top that off, because my breast cancer had tested hormone receptor positive I’d also have to start taking Tamoxifen and remain on it indefinitely after the chemotherapy had finished.
I was very happy when my sister, Karen arrived the following day. I was somewhat apprehensive about how she’d react to seeing her sister with a lob sided chest, but she didn’t react at all, she just embraced me. The next day I was due to have my stitches removed and I was very excited about that. Although the hospital had bandaged me up in a clever way that made me look as though I still had a breast on the left side, I still couldn’t help feeling a little self conscious and vulnerable in public. I was no longer feeling so tender and sore at the op site anymore and was ready to go and look at prosthesis’. We visited a shop which had an amazing variety of not just prosthesis’ but also bras and swimwear. Still feeling quite a bit of stiffness in my arm and shoulder, Karen was an amazing help. She never batted an eyelid when she saw my scar for the first time, but was just the most incredible help and support, and assisted me in ensuring that I decided on the correct size. I also bought a swimming costume that is still one of my favorites today. Wearing the prosthesis made such a huge difference as all my self confidence returned almost immediately. Having Karen there was a life saver to me. Living in a foreign country with no immediate support system is very hard, and she intrinsically knew that and dropped everything that she was busy with 8000km away just to be with me. I would’ve done exactly the same for her, but I still found it really touching. The photo that you see on this particular page was taken while she was here that time, not long after my surgery. Seeing her leave 10 days later was very difficult as I cried in the car all the way home from the airport, but I of course knew that she had her family and responsibilities to get back to. I was just so grateful that she’d been to see me.
I didn’t have much time to dwell on the fact that she was gone and that the house felt so empty, as my chemotherapy was due to start just 2 days later.