Breast cancer lesson number seventeen: The body is an amazing – and unpredictable – thing

One week on from chop-me-up-and-get-the-cancer-out day and I am delighted to report that (touching all wood around me), I seem to be free from any early complications.

On the tummy side, I’m still pretty sore, coughing is savage and laughing just cruel, but my magic corset is helping me get around. On the boobie side, there’s still numbness, some hard tissue (that’s not had enough blood) and swelling (wouldn’t mind if that stayed actually) and it’s a nice shade of yellow, but it’s alive and that’s all that matters. And on the arm side, with the exception of some nasty pins and needles in my hand and swelling under the armpit (that means I can’t use it properly), it’s coming back to life. Healing takes a long time, but for week one, I’m feeling good.

There is one tale of the unexpected, however, that I have not yet shared – and it was enough to contribute to my recent broken sleep (if you’ve read lesson four, you’ll understand the significance of this). After working hard to ‘switch everything off’ for surgery so that I could start fertility treatment in a few weeks time, imagine my surprise (and that of the nurses) when, on day one, I ‘came on’.

I realise this subject is enough to turn most male stomachs, but this wasn’t any ordinary monthly cycle or episode of PMT. It was the cycle I wasn’t supposed to have, so I could give myself a window to preserve my fertility and freeze some embryos before chemo. Its arrival brought with it two fears: 1) I had lost that window and would have to start chemo with the realisation it may take away my fertility for good or 2) I would have to start self-injecting with hormones now and taking anti-cancer drugs to try a give myself the time to stimulate those ovaries. Sadly, when the nurses called the fertility clinic to explain my dilemma, it became clear option two just wouldn’t be possible so soon major surgery.

The good news – and the reason I have held off sharing this until now – is that the cycle disappeared nearly as quickly as it arrived. When the body is subjected to trauma it starts doing funny things. This was just its way of being funny. Thanks body, not funny! On Wednesday, I was given the green light to keep taking the pills, so that fertility treatment can start once the scars have started to heal properly. So, we’re back on track.

There was, however, a bit of amusement attached to this mini drama (again sorry male friends, this could be considered over-sharing). When I made the discovery, I needed pads fast. It was at this point that I was presented with NHS equivalents (imagine full on adult nappy or pad the length of an oven glove). It may not have been shocking enough to stop my period in its tracks, but it certainly prompted me to ask my two unsuspecting male visitors (sorry guys) to sort me out – and fast!

So, if your body starts playing up and having a bit of fun, do not despair. It’s just its way of saying: ‘Hang on a second, did I consent to this rather brutal attack? I have feelings too.’ Let’s just hope it plays ball when I come of the pills at the end of next week, otherwise there’ll be strong words! 

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