There’s no point lying about it, cancer ruined my day a bit on Tuesday.
There was I, remaining positive and upbeat and feeling like I could definitely take the nonsense in my stride, when I got hit by a speeding freight train of emotion and found myself sobbing in the toilets at work. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as many emotions at any one time. And if you know me well, you’ll know that I usually feel a lot of emotions (never really got past my Something Corporate, Funeral For a Friend emo phase, my taste in music just got better and I learned how to do subtle eyeliner).
I hadn’t actually cried about cancer all that much. I’d had a bit of a weep here and there, but I think the shock of my diagnosis meant that I hadn’t really processed it. No matter how many times you tell yourself “I’ve got breast cancer” it still doesn’t really seem all that real, til you’re on the 521 from London Bridge to Waterloo having just agreed with a surgeon to have your entire boob removed in less than two weeks, and someone sends you a really bloody nice email. Then you start to sob a little bit and then the sodding flood gates open and you’re not sure you’re ever actually going to stop crying.
I felt like I was facing a future, not as a woman with one fake cheb, but as a woman who was constantly damp from her relentless tears and who drowned the people around her with her insatiable sobbing. Anyway. That didn’t happen. And it turned out that actually, I just needed to give in. To let that emotion leave me. Cos now I feel better. Now I feel positive again. I honestly did cry enough to combat the great London hosepipe ban of 2012 (not sure if that’s even a thing but there was a hosepipe ban then, Wikipedia told me so).
It was never about not beating this thing – not for a second, don’t get me wrong. It was more the sheer overpowering of all of the nervous energy, fear, exhaustion and general emotion of the last two weeks that came flooding out in every direction. It was the size of the decision I was being forced to make at 26 years old. It’ll come again. I’ll try to resist it again. But at this point, it’s alright to let myself do whatever I need.
So as you can probably guess from the above, I have made the decision to have a mastectomy on my right boob. The choice was entirely mine. When the surgeon said that if he had a clone of me with the same cancer, did a lumpectomy (just removing the bad tissue) on one and a mastectomy (taking off the whole boob) on the other, the outcome would be exactly the same, but the Alice who had the mastectomy was less likely to get cancer in the future, it was a no brainer. So on 3rd August 2015, I will say ta’ra to my right boob. I’ll be taken down to theatre, where they’ll take out all of the bad tissue, leaving behind the nip, and pop in an implant in in the same surgery. Then I’ll wake up with a new boob. How incredible is that?!
Recovery is going to be about 6 weeks. There’s going to be drains and brusing and sleeping in a bra. There are going to be scars. But the cancer will be gone! And after that, I’ll start having chemo, probably towards the end of September. Which means I can keep my hair on my terms for a bit longer, and I won’t be bald on my birthday. And I won’t be having chemo on my birthday. And I’ll probably be largely recovered from the surgery on my birthday. So even though I won’t be in Sri Lanka this year as originally planned, it probably couldn’t have worked out much better.
I’m going to try and post something non- cancer related before surgery. But I might not have chance. Or I might just want to keep talking about “the nonsense” (because this is really, very cathartic, soz guys).
In other news, I’d also really like to try and make #checkyourchebs a thing. If you have Twitter, I’d love it if you could share my story using the hashtag so more young women can get into the habit of checking themselves regularly. Breast cancer does only affect 1 in 2000 women under 29, but so many people have told me they’re guilty of not checking themselves regularly that it’s clear we need to do something about it. Breast cancer does tend to affect older ladies but it can happen to us too and catching this thing early has made a world of difference to my treatment plan and prognosis. I think it’s also important to add here – if you’ve been putting off your smear, it’s time to get that booked in too. If you’re a woman who is over 25, you should have had a letter from your GP inviting you to a clinic. Just go. It’s 10 minutes of mild discomfort but your health is worth so much more than that. Allow me a second to just get down from my high horse before we move on…
I’m also going to start a “boobsaurus” – a list of all of the words for boobs I can possibly think of. Drop your ideas in the comments below, and look out for a new page on the blog with ’em all listed real soon. Maybe I’ll try and find a prize for the first person to give me a word I’ve never heard of before…
And lastly, thanks for all the amazing comments you’ve been leaving on my blog recently. I haven’t got back to them all – but I will.