Breast Cancer Blog - Episode 1: The First Step

Updated: Feb 28, 2021

I have breast cancer. There, I’ve said it. Out loud on the internet. So it’s out there now and I can’t take it back. I can’t be in denial because there it is, in black and white. I have breast cancer. I said it again, just to be sure it wasn’t a typo. Sorry to be so blunt about it, it’s probably a bit of a shock to read it like that. It was a total fucker when I found out too. But here we are.

I’ve had a bit longer to get used to the idea than you, I found out on the 4th February, on World Cancer Day, would you believe. The irony was spectacular. If there was going to be a day to find out I had cancer, this was it. A day with its very own hashtag. How utterly, perfectly 'me'. Hell, there’s probably even tee shirts and stationery I could get hold of to commemorate it. Imagine the macabre dichotomy of having a stationery passion so strong that you’re even drawn to a pen to commemorate the day your earth shifted on its axis. Welcome to my world.

I’ll bore you with the details of the medical stuff and the biopsy and mammogram things another day. No one wants to hear that level of detail without at least a forewarning and a stiff cup of tea to steady your nerves. But suffice to say it’s early stages, but the aggressive sort, so I’m going to be having the whole cocktail of treatment; surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone something-or-others after that. I’m not looking forward to any of it, but I’m hoping you’ll come along on the journey with me to cheer me on. I can be quite stubborn at times (don’t roll your eyes at me, I know that ‘quite’ really means ‘excruciatingly) and if I get to a point in the future where I don’t want to go along to the next appointment, I’ll need you lot to kick me up the arse, slap me about the head and virtually drag me there.

Editor’s note: I’m sorry about the swearing, there’s probably going to be quite a lot of it, so if you’re of a more sensitive persuasion, I won't mind if you quietly step outside and take your leave.

Right now, I’m doing OK. I’ve done the first of the complete emotional collapses, I’m sure there will be lots more to come, but at the moment I’m in practical School Business Leader mode. Researching, planning, risk assessing, notifying and, this is the really unlike-me bit, asking for a bit of support.

I don’t need heart and flowers and outpourings of love (although a few homemade lasagnes on the doorstep might be nice). I don’t want sympathy, pity, or I really don’t ever want anyone telling me I’m going to be fine. I might well be, I hope I will be, but I might not, who knows. We’ll see what happens. But what I would like is to know there are a few people out there listening, caring, and walking along beside me at various points on the journey. I have some wonderful, truly amazing friends who are already holding me tight. In fact my very best friend, my sister, has also just started her own cancer journey, so there’s no way I’m ever going to be alone. Unless I want to be. And maybe not even then. I have two teenagers, a husband, 3 dogs, 4 cats and I'm surrounded by fields of sheep. It's rarely quiet.

Writing has been an enormously therapeutic and cathartic experience for me over the last few years, and so I’ve decided to blog my way through this next part of life’s journey, in the hope that it will give me a way of voicing some of the things I’m trying to process. This blog is for me, it's self-indulgence. I might write every day, I might write twice and give up, I might go for ages and then have a mad flurry of activity. We’ll see where it takes us.

I don’t know anything about cancer, so don’t expect medical advice or expertise. I have no idea what any of the jargon or terminology means, but I’m sure I’ll be an expert soon enough. I don’t know how to be a cancer patient yet, I probably won’t be a very good one, but I do know that I won’t be starting coffee mornings or running marathons any time soon (you can pretty much bet your mortgage on that last one). So if you’re interested in coming along, here we go. But equally, if you’re not, that’s fine too.

I’m still going to be all the things I was before, mum, wife, daughter, sister, school business leader. Still caring about, and fighting for, all the things I hold dear, but now I’ll be juggling one more ball.

Cancer, in a pandemic. Shitting Nora, I do pick my moments!