Breast Cancer Blog - Episode 9 : A Shark Called Janet


Recovery isn’t something I’ve ever had to do before, as I’ve never really been ill. Turns out that:

A. I’m not very good at it

B. it hurts

C. it’s boring

I was sent home from the hospital with a box of strong painkillers, a leaflet on arm exercises and instructions that I couldn’t drive or lift anything heavier than a tea tray with two cups on it. First off, who uses a tea tray? Second, who uses cups? And third, if I’m recovering from anything I have no intention of making my own tea. I expect it to be brought to me at regular intervals when I ring a bell. To be fair, this has pretty much happened, so big brownie points to my husband on that one.

Getting home was fine, anaesthetic is great, but finding a comfortable position to sleep in when you’ve got a very tender armpit and a hole in your chest is a challenge. My heart-shaped pillow was an absolute godsend for under my arm, but the nurse said to try a pillow along my side to keep my arm itself supported. I tried that, it didn’t feel right, so I looked around for an alternative and lo, like an angel sent from the heavens above, I found Janet.

Meet Janet

Janet the Shark has been my bedfellow for a week now and is proving to be invaluable. Not only as an arm support, but also as a draught excluder, cat deterrent and a general badass. So far, my husband hasn’t even flinched at this new 3-in-a-bed scenario, but I suspect it’s not quite lived up to his younger self’s expectations of life. Sleeping on one side only is annoying, but I’ve never been able to sleep sitting up, or on my back, so Janet is the first thing I see at night and the first thing I see in the morning, which is terrifying, until I realise she’s not a real shark.

I’ve been wondering how comes the pain and soreness is all in my armpit, when the lump and scar is about 8 inches away. Turns out (from my new bestie cancer buddy Darcie, name changed to protect her from her own inappropriate comments) that breast cancer surgeons are expert burrowers, and they tunnel along from one site to the next like tiny badgers. So basically, I have an 8 inch tunnel and 2 cavities inside me, which sounds pretty much like a bullet wound to me, in which case I, and anyone who has been through breast cancer surgery, is a bloody battle hero, who should be given a medal, and certificate of honour and a big fuck off pile of lovely presents in fancy paper.

Is that the sound of tiny violins?

Getting around the house is OK, but doing any kind of normal household job is tough, so I have sadly had to step aside from some chores (is that the sound of tiny violins?). I did do 3 lots of washing and emptied the dishwasher yesterday, but my arm quickly decided that hadn’t been a good idea, and I am now sitting on the domestic goddess sidelines, propped up by cushions, taking on a more strategic role. I think the role suits me, I may keep it.