One of my appointments is a procedure to have a titanium marker inserted into the site of the tumour. This is to ensure that after 16 weeks of chemotherapy when it comes to surgery they are able to locate where the tumour was - as the hope is that chemotherapy will do its job and eradicate the tumour or at least begin to shrink it. They need to be clear as to exactly where it is so that if after chemotherapy the tumour has gone that the operation ensures that the tumour site and clear margins are removed so that I am cancer-free.
So the day before my son’s 4th birthday and his annual birthday pre- hogmaney bash we do every year for all of the kids at nursery and our friends and their children, I go to the clinic. I don’t know what to expect. I have been told that it is a routine procedure and that it will be painless and I can drive. I arrive at the clinic and am quickly ushered into my appointment. It’s the day before New Year’s Eve and I am sure they want to be here as little as I do though that doesn’t stop me feeling sorry for myself.
The next day I have to cater for about 30 four year olds and their parents. Our son’s birthday has become a popular fixture on the social calendar as it falls on New Year’s Eve and for many of us parents’ it’s the only hogmaney celebrations we will get to over the next few years whilst our little ones are so young. My partner and I have always tried to make it as fun for the adults as much as for the children with mulled wine, nibbles and cava to round off the three hours (which by then is definitely needed!) The kids run wild having lots of fun playing with toys or the games we lay on. I really do believe the parents love it as much as the kids which makes me more determined than ever to make it as great as ever and not for it or me to be clouded by the C word. By this stage I have only told a few people so I can get away with hiding things and carrying on with as much normality as possible.
I lay on the bed and my breast is numbed with some local anaesthetic. The lovely nurse offers me her hand to squeeze in case of pain when the needle goes in. She tries to distract me by engaging me in some general chit chat which I am grateful for as a gesture of kindness, but also feel obliged to partake in when really I just want to be anywhere but here. If she would just stop talking I could imagine this wasn’t happening and that I was where I should be – getting things ready for my little boy’s big day.
The doctor is kind and very efficient and the procedure itself as they said takes no time at all. I am bandaged up and sent on my way. I return home feeling not only the numbness in my tit but also in my mind. I need to retain this numbness in order to get through tomorrow and the days to come. My mind wants to scream, “Why is this happening to me?”, but I have to keep it in because I can’t lose it for the sake of my family and my own sanity. Certainly not now the day before my son’s birthday when I have to make a parcel the parcel or parcels big enough provide a present for each child and and bake a chocolate brownie birthday cake big enough to feed 30 children and their accompanying parents!!!
Now with an ‘X’ truly marking the spot my own swashbuckling adventure with cancer is about to start. But not today. Cancer will have to wait until next year I tell myself (or at least the day after tomorrow) then it will unfortunately, I’m sure, have my full attention. Today however returns to being about the most important thing happening this year – preparations for my little boy’s 4th birthday and this cake won’t bake itself…