“So was my mammogram ok?” I ask my surgeon. This is the first time I’ve seen her for months. “Because it was about a month ago and I haven’t heard anything and…”
“Oh I’m sorry – my mistake: we got a bit behind,” she says. She’s looking glamorous as always in a mint green shift dress and block nude platforms, shiny sheets of hair tumbling over her shoulders. I love my surgeon who manages to combine effortless style and professionalism with a lovely personality and a genuine care for her patients. Nothing is too much trouble. She’s always got time to explain things to us.
“I suppose I thought if there was a problem you’d tell me and so it’s been a month so I hope everything was ok and…”
“It’s fine. Your mammogram was normal.”
“Phew,” I say. “So am I allowed to go on holiday?”
“Yes, definitely,” she says, smiling. “Go on holiday.”
“I’ve been selected to go on a writing retreat in Burgundy in August,” I say.
“You must go,” she says. “I’ve had a letter from your plastic surgeon, he wants to do some work on the other side.”
“I thought, we thought,” I say, looking at Mum, “that I had to wait for six months after the radiotherapy for the skin to have healed enough to have any more operations.”
“This operation is on the other side,” she says. “Not on the side where you’ve had a mastectomy and radiotherapy. Your plastic surgeon will be pleased to hear that your left side is normal and there is no cancer there so he can do a bit of cosmetic work on it to even things out and…”
“Oh by the way I’ve started writing a blog about my post-breast cancer dating experiences,” I say. “If you’d like to look at it or recommend it to any of your other patients, here’s the link. In fact, give me your email address and I’ll send you the link.”
“Definitely,” she says. “I will definitely point my other patients towards it. I can’t think of anyone with such a positive attitude as you and…”
“That’s just her mental disorder,” mum says. “Her mood is up at the moment.”
“You’re so close all of you – it must be a great support for her,” my surgeon says to Mum. “You and your daughter and your husband.”
“All her illnesses have brought us closer,” Mum says, taking my hand and stroking it. “She’s been ill all her adult life.”
“Just try and have a bit of a break all of you and enjoy the summer,” my surgeon says. “I’m very pleased that things are looking OK, the radiotherapy has been delivered well, that area looks great.”
“I’m worried that the cancer is going to come back,” Mum says.
“You just have to keep an eye on the area,” my surgeon says. “Be vigilant, look out for any changes in the appearance of that skin.”
“I will,” I say.
“Look after yourself and I’ll see you in six months,” she says.
I give her a goodbye hug and give my blog address to the breast care nurse on the way out.
As we walk towards the car, I feel happy. No way am I where I assumed I would be, a year after diagnosis (better – ha!) but at least for the moment my skin seems to be cancer free and I’m back at work, writing again, back in the flat and even dating again.