Those two words, breast cancer, for a woman mean immediate start button on an emotional rollercoaster. I don’t know when the ride ends. I’m still on it. The highs, the lows, times you feel strong enough to tackle the world and others when you wish it would swallow you up.
That ride home to Carterton on November 1st was dreadful. The first problem, much more easily fixed, was that it was after 3pm and I hadn’t had anything other than a cup of tea at the radiology clinic since breakfast much earlier in the morning. For a Coeliac takeaways and eating lunch from a cabinet in a cafe are fraught with difficulties. Most cafes seem to think that all we ever want to eat is the orange almond cake, which is nice, but not lunch. The Indian Cafe in Lower Hutt where we liked to eat on occasion had closed for lunch at 2pm. Finally we drove past a Burger Fuel. They do GF hamburgers, yummy ones too albeit a little large for a 3.30pm lunch. So armed with the burger and a bottle of coca cola (when did I last have one of those?), we drove home.
Its so silly how something as petty as not having lunch and being unable to easily find anything to eat can assume such monstrous proportions in one’s mind. Truth be told I was past it then. I couldn’t have cared about lunch, but my tummy was rumbling and eventually it blotted out all else.
Having consumed the burger and coca cola with only minimal drippings down my front, I found I couldn’t open my mouth to speak without the tears coming on, so we drove in silence for most of the way.
I have no idea, then or now, what was running through Peter’s mind. We just drove.
We had to go via the supermarket as I had nothing unfrozen that I could cook for dinner. I can’t even remember now what I bought, or what I cooked but I cooked something for dinner. Did I? Maybe Peter cooked it. We ate and watched TV. For the most part I still couldn’t speak without tears welling up, but there were three grown children living in different parts of the world who really deserved to know as well. So I faced the computer screen and wrote a group email to them, and later copied it to the brothers and sisters in law and a few friends I knew would care. Typing the words was much easier than giving voice to them. Much to my surprise Simon (the only son and the only one who lives in NZ) rang shortly after I had sent the email, and surprising enough I was able to speak without the tears. I was grateful for that, and for his call.
So then began the waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, one of the worst parts of the rollercoaster, at this stage, waiting. Waiting for those results on 8 November. Almost every night I would wake at some time in the wee small hours and find myself unable to get back to sleep. My mind raced away with me on journeys I didn’t want to travel but they kept intruding into my consciousness anyway, scenarios that I had been assured were most unlikely in my case, all the what ifs, just the thought of breast cancer and the potential disfigurement, all causes of massive sleep deprivation throughout the week. And come November 8th I was an emotional wreck. I still am.