Hope is the thing with feathers …

Emily Dickinson quote.jpg

Well this is a post I never thought I’d write for several reasons, not least of which is the fact that I tend not to share my personal ‘stuff’. However, sometimes it’s good to talk as the old BT ads used to tell us. In this case, even if no-one is listening, I get to offload my thoughts and put things in perspective.

It’s been a strange few weeks or so, that started with the discovery of a small lump in my breast. If I’m honest I didn’t do something straight away as a) I was going to Harrogate and b) I have a history of cysts. So I let it drift a week or so and when it didn’t do the decent thing and disappear I went to the doctor. By mid afternoon that same day I had an appointment at the hospital for the normal routine tests.

The day of the appointment arrived and OH and I trooped off to the hospital and the usual procedures were followed. Another examination to confirm said lump, the dreaded mammogram and then the ultrasound. After two previously abnormal mammograms which result in the discovery of nothing more sinister than cysts once the ultrasound has done its thing I was feeling quite calm. But then the ultrasound was taking a lot longer than usual and nobody was mentioning cysts. It was the mention of performing a core needle biopsy that suddenly turned a routine visit into something I hadn’t expected and wasn’t prepared for. I should say at this point I HATE needles and was fast becoming a quivering wreck at the prospect.

I survived, with many thanks to the lovely nurse who held my hand, I say held, hers was crushed by the end of the procedure. Once dressed and a bit less shocked I was dispatched with a sheet outlining the numerous horrors I might be faced with, swelling, bruising, pain, etc. etc. I’m delighted to say I felt a fraud, barely a bruise, no pain and no swelling – result! What I did have though was the longest 10 days of my life until I got the results back.

Yesterday was results day, so OH and I trooped back to the same hospital, though got a bit concerned when they checked me in and this time directed me to the Macmillan Cancer Clinic. Midway through trying to get wi-fi access to download a book to my Kindle for the OH who’d forgotten his  I got called through.

OK let’s cut to the chase, as I’ve already discovered,  there is no easy way of saying this, I have breast cancer. My little lump that accompanied me to Harrogate, met Lee Child, Ian Rankin and befriended lots of lovely people is 15mm of Grade 2 cancer – the bugger.

So I am now the proud? owner of a lovely Macmillan nurse called Jane and it appears my life for the foreseeable future is a merry round of appointments and treatments. Only this afternoon I was invited for a lovely pre-op next week. This pales into insignificance in the face of the delightful injection of a radioactive substance on the 4th Sept prior to my wide local excision (lumpectomy to you and me) and sentinal lymph node biopsy on the 5th. This latter procedure is also accompanied by a blue dye to locate the position of the sentinel lymph node.  We have been warned I’ll look like a pale imitation of a smurf for up to 24 hours and the added joy I’ll be capable of crying blue tears and producing blue urine.

Needless to say, within the space of 24 hours my OH and I have learnt words we never knew before and have uttered quite a few we knew already, though not that are suitable for polite company. The one good thing about yesterday, is that my surgeon was lovely and accommodating about a holiday we have booked for mid Sept. As it doesn’t involve flights or exotic places, she shuffled her diary around to fit me in on 5th rather than 12th so we can still go away.  If I’m being honest here, I was initially more concerned about missing my holiday than the not insignificant diagnosis that she hit us with (albeit very gently). So there, it’s now all in the open and it feels quite cathartic.

I’m not the sort of person to shy away from reality, and the reality is, I like many women and men before me, have breast cancer. Sadly I also know there’ll be just as many that follow a similar journey as well. However, I shall be carrying on as normally as possible (with no doubt a few more expletives) and if anyone wants to join me, I daresay I’ll keep you all updated with proceedings or just carry on talking to myself.

 

 

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103 thoughts on “Hope is the thing with feathers …

  1. Sorry to hear your news. Let’s hope they have caught the blighter nice and early and send it on its way. Lots of love being sent to you and yours xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Jill, thanks for posting about this. I hope your treatment goes well – there is a much greater success rate with breast cancers these days, but I know how worrying this must be for you. Let us know if there’s anything we can discuss, and in the meantime, keep reading and blogging and know that our thoughts are with you xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh Jill, I’m so sorry to hear this. You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers. I remember walking down this road with my mother years ago and if you need anything at all do not hesitate to ask. I am standing with you in belief that you will crush this thing; my mother was a stage 4 and has been in full remission since 2009. Thinking of you and sending all the love and strength I have your way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Chelsea, I’m really heartened by the number of stories of remission and cures. I’ve lost friends to it, but I’ve also had friends survive. I’m nothing if not practical and having so much love and support is really helping my positivity, for which I say thank you xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As soon as I saw the beautiful picture I knew what you were going to say. I’m not going to say sorry to hear this because you will find an inner strength you never knew existed. Macmillan are wonderful and I would have been lost without them on occasion.
    I wish you the best of luck with all the upcoming appointments and treatment .. you will go through a gamut of emotions, if you ever need a shoulder/ear you know where I am. Like you I don’t shy away from reality so I’m always happy to be contacted if you need anything! Take care xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ali, I really appreciate your support. I suspect the reality will really hit when the treatment really starts. To a degree, right now, it’s just a phrase that I’m repeating. But I’d like to think I’m a strong person and being bolstered by so many people is a real help. I’ll remember your shoulder/ear for future use xx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Aw Jill. You are definitely not talking to yourself and if you ever feel like letting off a few expletives my way send em over. I expect I’ll have heard worse. Very brave post Mrs but just know we’re about to support you however you need it even if it’s just bookish distraction suggestions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheers Jen, the irony of this post will not be lost on you. It’s the most personal, the least private and now my most viewed post! I’ve been doing this blogging lark all wrong. I appreciate your support and I’m always happy to add a few new expletives to my repertoire. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Do share – I’m sure it helps – thinking about what you’re going to write rather than what’s happening to you during a procedure. .. My maternal aunt had breast cancer late in life and took it very stoically. She had no children – any thought that I was insured against it by having 3 children and breastfeeding was dispelled when my mother also got it – though evenue later in life. I’m sure many of us will be glad to join you on your journey as it could be us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Janet, you’re right it could be any of us. Having seen many friends go through the same I hope has made me a bit more practical and accepting of it, though that’s not to suggest I’ll take it lying down. Thanks for joining me on the trip xx

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  7. Jill, I’m sorry to read of your diagnosis. I hope writing it all down has helped you begin to process it. An excellent post by the way. I had ovarian cancer and came out with total remission. I’m not an expert or particularly wise or anything so I hesitate to offer advice. All I can say is Macmillan are a superb organisation. Do make use of them. And remember you don’t have to be brave and strong and fighting all the time. It’s okay to curl up and cry. Cancer is a bitch but it doesn’t always win. I wish you all the best on your treatment journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Anne, it’s a real help and comfort to hear from so many that have tangled with cancer and come out the other side. If I’m honest it’s easy being brave and flippant right now as until the treatment starts it’s just a diagnosis. I’ve had no pain or any symptoms so I acknowledge the hard bit is yet to come. I know I can’t be funny and strong all the time and I guess if I’m going to keep sharing, those days will be apparent. I appreciate your support xx

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Caryl, if you’re getting this, you’re already on the list. It feels more anonymous sharing here, though it quite clearly isn’t but it keeps it away from my FB page where most people don’t know and I can carry on railing against the govt, posting my latest crush (well OK it’s usually the same ones) and generally being me without having to think about anything else. Unluckily for you – you’ll get both sides xx

      Liked by 2 people

      • Fine by me Jill. I’m not good with platitudes and never know what to say on such occasions but any time you want to vent I’m here. I’m usually awake at some point or several points during the night if you ever fancy a chat during one of the worry hours as I call them xx

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Liking your blog post seems wholly inappropriate Jill. I’m so sorry to hear your news. Please know that the blogging community ill be right behind you and sending you every possible positive wish. Having been through the process of waiting for the lymph node results for my husband 18 months ago I know what a difficult time this is. Take care and good luck xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jill – what news. Having had a family member go through this recently (and come out the other side) I can imagine the shock and how much you have to process but I love your positivity and won’t mind if you need to do a bit more swearing than usual! Good luck with all that comes next x

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh Jill, I’m very sorry to hear this – though you broke it to us very gently with humour and courage. I’m just glad it’s been discovered and things are happening quickly – and in time for your holiday! I have several very dear friends who have faced this ordeal and come through safely. You are right to be optimistic and quote Emily Dickinson. Thinking of you and your OH too xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Janet, the whole thing has happened very quickly and to a degree I think I probably haven’t really processed the reality. I might talk a good game, but I need to wait until I start playing so to speak. Never the less as a good Northern lass, I’ll do my best. The thought of escaping on holiday is doing wonders for morale I must admit. We’ve got a cottage overlooking the bay in Glandore, SW Cork an area we both love. Fortuitously this year, we’re actually in the village itself, so no drives to a pub/restaurant if we feel like not bothering. OH will need this holiday as much as me so we can get ready for what lies ahead. xx

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Well, Jill, having met you (and lump) at Harrogate, I have been somewhat distracted in the intervening period, and only this week got on with following your blog. And I was looking forward to reading some reviews, so this was both a surprise and shock to be the first post that I was notified of – clearly no hint of a review, but something more personal and real. I’m still looking forward to reading your reviews, but – for now – can only send good wishes for your treatment (and holiday!). And if you have more to share, from now on I will be reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Graeme, that’ll teach you to turn up late 🙂 If you scroll back (or look under Random Ramblings) you’ll see you actually got a mention in my Harrogate review. Of course lump was an innocent bystander at that stage. I still plan to carry on reading (hopefully I’ll still feel like it) and reviewing so the reviews will appear in due course. Thanks for stopping by and your kind wishes, it’s nice to see you again xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Curiosity aroused (and with a little trepidation), I’ll have a look at that post. And I am looking forward to reading your reviews as and when they appear. I won’t promise to read your back catalogue, because there are only so many hours in the day!
        Good to “see” you again too. With a fair wind, I’m sure it will be in person again before too long.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nothing to fear in the post so you can relax. I’ll try and mix in something a bit less girly for you to read. In fact after Harrogate and the discovery that I’ve got books by everyone I spoke to, I’ve got no excuse. Can’t even complain I won’t have time now either.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Jilly, that so sucks such big time. I’m so sorry. But you’ve been very courageous in sharing it with us all and in dealing with the shock and anxiety this has already and is going to cause. Keep your hope and faith in that hope. All your friends, both real life and cyber will be rooting for you in any way we know how. A big hug coming your way! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much. I hadn’t originally planned on sharing but it seemed a good idea at the time. It does help to talk about it, and people have been amazing. I guess you do discover who your friends are – real or cyber. I’m learning I’ve got a lot more than I ever thought and I really appreciate it xx

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Forgive me Jill, if I say I laughed a couple of times when reading your post. :O Although we’ve never met I have the feeling you will understand exactly what I mean, at least I hope so. I tend not to share personal ‘stuff’ either, but in these circumstances it must have been cathartic to get it down on paper.
    I can’t say I feel sorry for the little **** but with your positive spirit and sense of humour it doesn’t stand an earthly! When the going gets tuf (as it will on occasion) remember you’re bigger than he is, and teach him not to mess with a good, Northern lass. Big hugs, and perhaps ear-plugs for the OH for Christmas to counteract a few expletives deleted. 😉 x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laughing is def allowed, I have no problem with that. Having made the decision to share I certainly didn’t want it to be sombre post. I suspect further down the line, I might be a bit less flippant, but who knows, I’ve not been here before. Despite the fact my OH was a soft Southerner, he’s an honorary Northerner now and has a good grasp of my Northern bluntness and headstrong ways. Qualities that will hopefully stand me in good stead. Thanks for dropping by and keep laughing xx

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi Jill,
    So sorry to hear about this and you’ll be in my thoughts over the next few weeks. I hope the treatment goes well. It’s great to see the support from all your “book” friends above. Stay strong!
    Sending love
    Pam xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Pam, I’ve kept it away from JBC on Facebook for now, until I maybe have to take some downtime, but I’ll make that decision as and when. Until then, it will be business as usual for as long as possible, all helped by the amazing support I’ve had.

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  15. I don’t know how I missed all this. Too wrapped up in my own little problems I guess. All the words have already been said by others who know you well and are closer to you than am I. And I don’t personally believe in the strength of prayer, so mine would be wasted words. Nonetheless I do want to say something to let you know that I am thinking of you now, and will do so until you receive the “all clear”. I wish you strength as you start what will be quite a marathon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Simon. It’s all happened very recently and I didn’t share on my FB page. This felt like the easy way of putting it out into the ether. I don’t want it to be doom and gloom, or pussyfooting round the issue, I’m not the first and won’t be the last. I’ve been overwhelmed by the support though, it has been amazing – both from people I know well and people I’ve ‘met’ via social media. In fact I’ve yet to tell most of my friends in the real word, that seems so much harder – we’re gradually doing it a few at a time. Vince has likened it to ‘doing’ the Christmas cards, close family first and drip feeding down through the rest. That people have taken the time to pass on their best wishes means a lot and I really appreciate it.

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  16. I’m a new follower and so sorry to hear this, keep strong and keep a PMA (positive mental attitude!!) that’s what the nurses told my hubby when he had cancer, which he’s come through now thankfully! Sending hugs x

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Oh, Jill! Cancer sucks and I’m so sorry to hear you’re having to go through this. First, I want to thank you for sharing. Face-to-face, I’m an open book. I thought it would be even easier sharing personal info on a blog but I’ve found that’s not so for me. So I definitely admire your openness. Second, I want to let you know that you’ve inspired me to schedule a mammo appointment (on time!). I’ve had so many abnormal that I’m now on the 6 month plan. However, 6 months usually means 18-24 for me. So thanks again for that. I’m sure this post has prompted other readers to make the call and/or encourage the women in their lives to do so.

    You are right in saying that there will likely be very difficult moments ahead. Please believe in your ability to navigate through them. (From the above I trust that being a Northern lass will help get you through!?) Vent, scream, cry, buy a new handbag, whatever… Cancer treatments are generally not fun but each one will bring you closer to being done with the whole lot of it!

    I have no doubt that you will beat this! In the mean time, enjoy your vacation (Sounds fabulous!) and know that we are all rooting for you!!

    xx
    am

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Ann Marie. I’d like to say my decision to share was a conscious thought through plan but it was a spur of the moment write it and press publish. Only afterwards did I realise that there are a lot more people out there reading it than I imagined. Not just my known book buddies. But if it does help someone else, and not just me, I’m delighted. I’m so pleased it’s spurred you on to get yourself checked. In the UK between the ages of 50 to 70 we are called for a mammogram every 3 years. My next one would not be due until March 2018 so I’m glad I found this lump myself, though I don’t check regularly it was an accidental discovery. I wasn’t overly concerned as I thought it was a cyst, thankfully I did decide that wasn’t my call to make. So go for your checks regularly, especially if you’ve shown abnormalities. It’s so easy to get blase and let it drift because the abnormalities haven’t proved serious in the past. I’m not sure at this stage how much I’ll share going forward. As I said, there wasn’t a plan. It’s also easy to be fun and flippant when it’s just a diagnosis and none of the crappy stuff has kicked in. This has shown me though, I’m not facing it on my own, I’ve got people to let me vent at and I’ll need that. This is going to be tough, if not tougher for my OH who will have to cope with me and work and everything else. He’s self employed and we work together so he’s got a lot to juggle. But we’ll cope, because we have to. Well just try and enjoy our holiday first as we’ll need it. Thanks for your support and take care, your juggling your own problems xx

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I couldn’t bring myself to like this post but my heart and thoughts are with you, as little as it may sound. My mother kicked the ass of two cancers, one grade 4 and one grade 2, and you can use your enormous TBR to smash the hell out of this breast cancer. I don’t really know what I’m saying. I hate the mundane things we say in these occasions, but I’d like you to know I am very grateful and very proud of you for sharing this with us. I hope writing it down will help you as much as talking about my issues has helped me. I’m not much of a prayer person, but I’ll keep you in mind, and I’ll always be around if you need a chat, or whatever. You are not alone. On top of those surrounding you in real life, you have acquaintances, friends, friendly bloggers, your choice, to vent, to chat with, to just be there and tweet you cats peeing in toilets when you’re in a waiting room. Much love, and bookish, French, and very posh kisses on both cheeks too! 🙂

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