Breast cancer lesson number 55: Celebrate your independence day!

Naughty right boob wasn’t the first thing on cancer’s hit list after diagnosis day. Cancer started with my keys. Three sets to be precise (on one giant keyring).

The first, my work keys, were handed over when I realised I probably wouldn’t be opening up across town at 8am any time soon. The second, my car keys, were wrestled off me when it became clear tummy tucks and emergency stops were not particularly compatible. And the third, my house keys, were surrendered when, on 21 February, I travelled to hospital knowing I wouldn’t be coming home that night.

I have always felt comforted by a heavy set of keys (even though Duncan thinks they make me sound like a prison warden). With keys, comes independence. And, with independence, comes happiness. Of course, it didn’t take long to regain control of my own front door. But, my keys have been pretty light of late as cancer has tried its best to ground me.

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Yesterday, at my six-week post-surgery check-up, I took one giant leap away from cancer and towards independence. Impressed with the way in which my body had risen to the healing challenge, the surgeon declared that – providing I could do an emergency stop – I was fit to drive. I also got permission to have a bath, have a massage (to help the scarring) and explore non-wired (but not post-surgical) bras. As appointments go, this was pretty exciting.

Expecting to see one of his team, rather than the surgeon himself, I was delighted to find him in the consulting room waiting for me. After quizzing me on just how ‘tight’ the tuck was (the answer being ‘very’), he smiled and explained that, had he not worked for a while in Taiwan and seen lots of really slim women recover well from the surgery, he probably wouldn’t have attempted it. All I can say is, thank you Taiwan!

I had to laugh when he congratulated me on my healing abilities (he said he just had to do the mechanical bit). I am not sure I will ever believe him that watching box sets, reading books, writing blogs, taking walks and doing stretches is as amazing as microsurgery, but when you’re topless on yet another hospital couch covered in angry-looking scars, any compliment is nice to hear.

It was a great feeling being able to thank my surgeon for helping save me that day back in February. It was also a great feeling knowing that with every appointment and every day that passes, cancer is continuing to lose its grip. It took my house keys. I took them back. It took my car keys. As soon as I get home to my car at Easter, they’ll be coming back too. And, one day this year, I will be back in the office opening up at 8am… or maybe 8.30am :-).

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