“Hi there,” my surgeon says, opening the door of her consulting room. She looks lovely: her sleek dark hair tumbling down her back.
“Hello,” I say, throwing my arms around her, kissing her on the cheek. “It’s lovely to see you.”
“Hello,” Mum says, smiling.
We follow her into the room and take our seats across the desk from her. The walls are white, the ceiling is white. Everything smells of disinfectant.
“So,” she says. “We’re here to talk about what happens next. What are your thoughts?”
“Well I was wondering if I could have a skin-sparing mastectomy on my left side?” I say. “Since the tumour there isn’t in my skin. And have an implant put in there and…”
“Tanya,” Mum says, sounding exasperated. “Why don’t you see what your surgeon recommends?”
“Because she just asked me what I thought,” I say. “Mum, you said you thought it would be a good idea to get rid of the tumour and…”
“Yes,” my surgeon says, furrowing her brow, pen poised above the paper. “That sounds like a sensible idea. We can exchange your expander on the right side for an implant at the same time. I need to talk to your plastic surgeon – maybe we ought to remove that piece of skin where the cancer flared up on your right side too and…”
“Will I have to grow another hump?” I say.
“That shouldn’t be necessary,” she says. “Let’s have a look.”
We go behind the curtain. Slipping my top and sports bra off, I think how good it will be when my chest looks more even.
“Yes,” she says, examining my chest. “You’ll have to lose the nipple here I’m afraid.”
“That’s OK,” I say. “I don’t miss my other nipple. Just want to look OK in my clothes.”
“You can put your things back on now,” she says.
That all sounds fine, I think.
“So,” she says, once I’m sitting next to Mum again. “During the surgery we’ll take some nodes out and test them, and if there is cancer in the nodes you’ll need radiotherapy on that side and…”
“Oh no,” I say. Hadn’t even considered the possibility of another five weeks of radiotherapy. It’s exhausting, relentless and painful.
“Right,” she says. “I want you to make an appointment with your plastic surgeon for next week and I’ll liaise with him and we’ll get the ball rolling.”
“Thank you,” Mum says.
Driving home in the car, Mum is quiet.
“Aren’t you pleased?” I say. “A skin sparing mastectomy is what we wanted and…”
“I’m just sorry for you darling, having to go through all that again,” Mum says, her hands gripping the steering wheel. “Surgery, drains, all of it…”
“I’m looking forward to the morphine,” I say, looking out of the window into the darkness. “Anyway, I’m being brave and inspirational about it so you have to be too. Although I hadn’t even considered more radiotherapy every day for weeks and….”
“Nor had I,” Mum says.
We speed home towards Dad, Seb and MadFatRunner. Can’t wait to see them. Love them.
The attached photo is the baby fluffy monster.
Happy Saturday everyone!
*1939. Detective film. “In the middle of an eye-surgery operation in a large hospital, the lights go out and the surgeon is murdered.”