This is where there is a ghost…
This month The Lady Magazine published a feature that I wrote, about my breast cancer diagnosis day. Here it is with a link to an earlier article published in there too…
‘I feel there is a ghost of me standing by the chair in the consulting room at the Breast Unit of Wycombe District Hospital.
I was there, on my own, for a recall. I’d had a recall on my first mammogram 3 years earlier too. I wasn’t worried then, and I wasn’t worried now. In actual fact, if you want the naive truth, even though I was in the Breast Unit I had not given it one ounce of thought that there would be anything wrong.
Life was ticking along. I was ticking along. No problems or issues. I was there purely to be told all was well and be on my way.
The Breast Unit is quite a reverential place. There is a hush about it as soon as you walk in. People are anxious. All except me that is!
I moved along to a waiting room with three women who had been waiting for an hour! I, in my naivety, couldn’t understand why we hadn’t been called to say they were running late. And why were they running that late anyway?
I was whisked in to have the mammogram. Everyone was gone when I emerged. They didn’t give me a chance to sit down before I was ushered into the consulting room.
If everything was reverential in the main part of the Breast Unit it was positively sacred in the consulting room.
The doctor respectfully said, “we are here to talk about a tumour”. I honestly started to look round thinking wow! I’ve never seen a tumour before, whose is it? Laughable. Would she really be showing me someone else’s tumour? Really? When I looked back at her she was simply levelling her gaze at me and I said “Oh. You mean my tumour.”
And that’s where the old Deborah is stood if you want to go and have a chat with her ever again. She’s about 5’6” with longish dark hair. Ticking through life as a solo parent of two very tall teenagers. Living her life as best she can. Quite happy.
When you are given a diagnosis of that size, everything goes slo-mo. You can’t quite comprehend what people are saying to you in their hushed, respectful, slow, evenly toned voices. All of a sudden there are biopsies, appointments that clash with your old organised diary. And all of a sudden your plans take a huge dive out of the nearest window and leave you stood there, plan-less.
I suddenly understood why they were running late. Affording people the time they need to absorb this huge earth tremor is vital. A 10-minute appointment was not going to suffice.
As I walked back to the car the world had changed quite dramatically. Time was suspended. My head had become very full with no room for any additional anything. It was to stay crammed like that for months. Getting in the car the silence was all consuming. It was like being swathed in velvet, the soft, foreboding silence that was screaming through my head.
I had no idea what to expect now, but that was going to reveal itself sure enough.’