“So, um, I just wanted to say,” I say, looking at my surgeon. “So, um, when the oncologist said last week that the cancer was in my lungs now, I didn’t really need to know that and, you know, I already knew, because you said, that it had spread and…well I was wondering, in future could you tell my parents any details of if it’s spread. And then they can decide what to say to me.”
A pause. She looks confused. And so pretty and stylish in her turquoise crochet top and black knee high boots and black pencil skirt.
“So are you saying you don’t want to know these biopsy results?” She says, looking at me.
“Well I’m taking the pills and I had the injection and…is it very bad?” I say.
“Well, it’s a ductal carcinoma on the left side,” she says. “So it’s the same as your first tumour. So it’s what I was expecting. It doesn’t change the treatment. And your plastic surgeon wanted to know what was going on with you, and I’m not recommending any surgery at present.”
“I’d like a nice new boob on my left side,” I say.
“Well let’s see how the tumour responds to the hormone treatment,” she says.
“So, I’ve got a boyfriend now,” I say. “And he’s going off to university in September and…” She looks surprised, and not in a good way.
“Oh,” I say. “He’s thirty four, not eighteen. But he’s going to university now, in September. And I would really like to have the summer with him, and leave any surgery till September.”
“That sounds very sensible,” she says. “Let’s see how your cancer responds to the hormone treatment and then…”
“How will you measure that?” Mum says.
“By more scans – for the lungs – and by feeling the tumour,” she says. “It’s not going to be an immediate response.”
“And what about the lymph nodes?” Mum says. She looks at Dad “darling, take Tanya out now.”
“Come on, Tanya,” Dad says.
“I’ll find you a room to wait in,” the breast care nurse says.
Waiting with Dad in the special room. Mum is taking ages. There are catalogues for post-mastectomy underwear. The models all have grey hair and wrinkles.
“Why is it taking so long?” I say.
“I don’t know,” Dad says.
Time passes. Twenty minutes pass. Wandering out into the corridor, there is Mum at last.
“What took you so long?” I say, throwing my arms round Mum.
Mum smiles. “She wants to know why you’re coping so well, why you seem so calm.”
“Did you tell her that it’s just my mental disorder?” I say.
“I said let’s see how you’re coping in about four months,” Mum says.
My mood will probably have dropped by then and everything will seem quite different…
(Attached photo of the fluffy monster)
*2014. By Tess Gerritsen. Crime novel.