Today was my first check-up since the course of radiotherapy ended, and I had been trying to convince myself that I wasn’t the least bothered, it was just routine after all. But as the day approached, my mood got blacker.
I didn’t understand. It was all over now, just the long wait for all the tissues to heal. Not just from the surgery, but the devastation of the radiotherapy too. Practically everything inside my breast had been nuked, or at least that’s what I ended up calling it. The theory being, that all the cells around the site of the original cancer are destroyed, just in case any of them intended to turn bad on me.
This sounded all right when they explained it to me in the beginning, but over the weeks and all the discomfort, you start to wonder just what is going on inside you. All kinds of things seem possible, if not probable. Every twinge makes you suspicious. Personally, it would take a perfectly clear mammogram to convince me I wasn’t harbouring another unwelcome visitor.
To be fair, the young doctor did seem to be concerned about the rather large lump still inside my breast. The consultant was summoned and measurements were taken, and after a furtive discussion, (which I couldn’t quite hear) it was all deemed ‘normal’ and ‘to be expected’. BUT… and I waited, holding my breath.
“If it gets any bigger…or hot…or changes in any way… you must come back.” They explained the lump was a collection of fluid, the result of the cell destruction and should dissipate in time. So that was all right then, I think.
Then I was dismissed, and it was time to go home. I knew we were closer to the sea than home, and I really needed a break. All that pulling and squeezing had made my breast very uncomfortable, so I persuaded my escort to head for Hayling Island. It’s not far from Portsmouth on the south coast and just a little remote, and I love the vast wildness of the place. The perfect place to gather your wits.
It wasn’t sunny, but very mild. It was trying hard to rain and the sea was a mesmerizingly beautiful misty blue. There was rain out at sea, shrouding the Isle of Wight in a translucent mist. I plonked myself down on the shingle, merging my mind with the rhythm of the waves gently breaking in front of me. As the tension began to lift from my shoulders, I realised something, something I had refused to think about before. All those people in the clinic that day were all fighting for their lives to some degree. You would never guess how scared they must have been from looking at them though. It was a chilling thought that some of them probably wouldn’t make it.
But I had. I had beaten cancer, and the universe will never know how grateful I am…