Perpetually Waiting…

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Click here to start at the beginning of my story

Back in mid-2007 Simon applied for a job within his company that was located in Dubai. It was one of those positions that was advertised world wide and even though he worked for the same company, he had to go through the recruitment process like everyone else did.

At first it was exciting, but soon it was excruciating. Each step he would be told “we will get gack to you in three days” but we wouldn’t hear anything for weeks. Each step was said to be the last – and then another one materialised. The process continued for months. We even dropped everything at a few days notice to travel to Dubai for a final interview and to look at houses and schools.

During all of this our lives here were on hold. We were towards the end of renovating our house and were ready to buy new furniture and other items after living in a building site for a year before, but of course we didn’t want to buy all new things if we would just have to do the same in Dubai.

I had informed my work what was going on to keep them in the loop. They were not too happy about it, and gave me quite a lot of grief over the trip to Dubai, even though I had been saying it was going to happen for months. I eventually got fed up and resigned, assuming it would only be a few weeks until we moved.

In the end we chose not to accept the job. It was sad, but such a relief. After almost a year of living in limbo, we could get on with life again.

I feel like I am going through that same uncertainty all over again. Now the stakes are a bit higher and the uncertainties a bit more intense. Nearly every breast cancer patient says the first few weeks are the worst. Not only for the shock, but the tests, the multiple doctors, waiting for results, waiting for surgery dates. Once a treatment plan is in place, even if it includes every unpleasant option, at least there is a path forward.

Like the recruiters, my doctors have been so positive. “Don’t worry”, they say, “just a bit of surgery and then you will be all good!” Well, that’s not quite right. The surgery will be complicated and painful, with at least three different operations. And that’s assuming everything goes perfectly.

The surgery complications seem endless – and it seems that nearly every account I have read has at least one thing go wrong. It could be an infection or severe pain or bleeding. Even things like the implant being put in the wrong place or worse, rejected. Skin can die and drains just continue to run. Removal of lymph nodes can also lead to ongoing lymphoedema, a condition which never goes away.

Then there is the whole lymph node testing. I am only having one or two lymph nodes removed as the whole premise of DCIS is that it is “in situ” therefore not spreading, so in theory there should not be any cancer in my lymph nodes.

But I would certainly not be the first person who was told only had DCIS to find out after having a mastectomy that there was invasive cancer hiding in there too. Having lymph nodes removed can lead to other possible issues, such as cording in the arms, lymphedema and even more pain.

Lymph node involvement will likely mean chemo and other ongoing treatment, so until I get those results, I will not be able to truely breath a sigh of relief. Let’s hope I get the all clear – it will make the best Christmas present ever.

Until then, life is back on hold again. I can’t plan anything after December 5th. I was meant to be having Christmas lunch at our house with the extended family this year. That’s now been cancelled. I have no idea what will happen for Christmas now. I will be twenty days post-op, and while I like to think I will be recovering well, I still have to listen to a few of those “what ifs”.

What if there is a surgical complication? What if the lymph nodes don’t come back clear?

And I will be dealing with a form of this waiting all my life. So many people have a reoccurrence of their breast cancer, and every little lump or bump, every pain or ache, is not only a reminder of what has been, but starts all those “what if” questions again. What if it has come back?

When I think about that it becomes overwhelming. I can’t imagine this uncertainty hanging over me for years not just months. But it’s going to be reality. I will cope the same way thousands of other do – one day at a time.

This blog will help. I find writing therapeutic. Putting these words down on a page helps me. I can straighten my mind. And that old adage really does ring true – “a problem shared is a problem halved”. Even if no one reads my words, I feel better…

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