herald

Friday 17 August 2018

Good news one year on from cancer

THERE is an overwhelming feeling of nervousness when you attend hospital to have your first mammogram after a mastectomy.

“But you don't have that boob anymore,” said Maggie, stating the bleeding obvious.

“They check the other one every year — just in case,” I explained.

“Will you get a discount?” asked Patsy.

“I certainly hope so,” I replied. As it turned out, I did. Last year it cost me €185. This year, because I have one less, it cost €140.

“Will we come with you?” they offered. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to handle all the shrieking either way so I said no, I'd see them for coffee afterwards.

The consultant checked me for lumps and bumps, of which I had none. We talked about the pros and cons of reconstructive surgery and then it was down to radiology for the mammogram.

It was all very deja vu.

Firstly, it was the exact date on which I had been diagnosed with breast cancer last year and, secondly, the same nurse came out to greet me.

“I remember you,” she smiled. “Let's get this done now.” I was grateful I didn't have to wait.

Mammogram machines are not designed for flat-chested women. There is a shelf on which the breast is placed before it's squashed as if it was in a sandwich toaster.

At least, with an average-size breast, you can throw it up on the shelf and leave it there, whereas my tiny mammary had to be coaxed and coerced like a reluctant puppy.

Thankfully, I only had to do the one.

Results

Luckily, the radiologist was going to look at the results straight away. I waited in my hospital gown, thinking ‘if I have to have chemo and lose my hair again, I'll throw a major hissy fit’.

The radiologist arrived. He was the same doctor that attended me last year. His calm and thoughtful manner helped enormously when he delivered the bad news back then. This time he sat in front of me and, with that same calm manner, delivered the good news. “All clear,” he smiled. “We'll see you again next year.”

I didn't realise I had been holding my breath and I exhaled long and loud before skipping out to the car park to ring my other half to let him know the results. Then it was back to Kildare to meet the girls for coffee.

We celebrated with big cakes and talked about everything including politics and bottom lifts for men. Just another day in paradise.

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