Breast cancer lesson number one: Bridget Jones shouldn’t be the only company you keep in the hospital waiting room!

Sorry Bridget. It’s not you and your incessant calorie counting. It’s the fact you’re fictional! 

Diagnosis day is not something I imagine I will ever forget. When the highlight of the day is going to the hygienist, you know there’s something not quite right in the world!

Of course, ever the optimist, I didn’t think for one minute Friday 17 January 2014 would actually be diagnosis day. Dr Google had already convinced me the chances were slim and that I was more likely to have a fibroadenoma (if you want a bit of a science lesson) or ‘breast mouse’. 

That’s why I went to the hospital alone for the results of my biopsy and lymph node cell test. True to form, I was more worried about the fact there are only about two chairs in the breast clinic waiting room that have phone reception than I was the appointment itself.  Having spent enough time ‘guessing the illness’ with fellow waiting room visitors, I decided I would at least try and move chairs – all because I wanted to reply to a few work emails.

Benign lumps don’t need breast nurses to care for them. So, when a nurse came to collect me for my appointment, I already knew the result wouldn’t match my own rather amateur diagnosis. The appointment itself was a bit of a blur. I have just received the diagnosis letter in which the doctor describes me as being both ‘pleasant’ and ‘very shocked’. I am not sure inconsolable crying could ever be considered ‘pleasant’.

Amusingly, my thoughts didn’t turn to pain, suffering or surgery. In fact, I was more worried about the fact I hadn’t done my homework, researched the disease and constructed a detailed to-do list of actions and questions!

I don’t really remember the mammogram that followed (I didn’t have one at the start of the process, because women’s breasts tend to be too dense for the screening under the age of 40).  All I do remember is the kindness of those around me and the cups of tea, the tissues and my desperate attempts to reach family and friends. The phone reception is so bad at the hospital that I ended up mounting a very large window sill in the corridor to try and call my parents, Duncan and my amazing GP friend Hannah. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t long before I was scooped up and ushered into a room – I think I was making the corridors look untidy!

I am happy to say that even on one of the darkest days in my entire life, there was still space for humour. The funniest moment, however, came from a rather unusual source: Waitrose. Not content with the bottles of champagne flooding in to help us toast our engagement, Duncan and I took advantage of Waitrose’s January offer of a free bottle with every online shopping order. Needless to say, the delivery wasn’t the first thing on my mind when Duncan and I got home. Imagine our surprise, when I opened the door at 6pm, only to be greeted by one of the happiest Waitrose employees I have ever seen clutching our free bottle and beaming from ear to ear. ‘What are you going to celebrate?,’ he declared. ‘So many things,’ I replied. The bottle may still be sitting unopened, but whoever you were, thank you Mr Waitrose man for making me smile.

I have always said that if you want something done, give it to me in January. You may have caught me off guard on one day nasty cancer cells, but I am going to spend the rest of my life making sure there’s only one winner! 

3 comments

  1. Hi Jackie, Alex’s Stevens mum…
    I felt compelled to write, firstly to say Hi, and then to talk about your/our plight that is ours and so many others, I was shocked, saddened and angered by the news, you are too young. You have so much life and living ahead of you.
    I start my chemotherapy tomorrow, yes we have a fight on our hands but these Oncogenes don’t stand a chance with our positively. The gremlins in your head do settle, hugs are the best medicine.

    1. Hello, Thanks so so much for your kind note. I was so sorry to hear of your recent diagnosis, but thrilled (if that is ever the right word in the circumstances) that you are through round one. Wishing you lots of luck for your chemo. Hope it is as good as can be expected. Hope you have a good book. I hear dark nail polish is also a good friend of chemo. I have been given lots of tips, so let me know if they would be useful. I plan to post them all soon. Take care and big hugs to you as a fellow positive fighter. You are an inspiration. Xx

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