I have started the week well and walked into work! I do arrive much more energised and I got in early too….it must be the lure of a holiday at the end of the week and much to do in the interim.It’s also started well with the good news that the Government in Scotland has announced the launch of the detect cancer early programme aimed at improving early detection in breast, bowel and lung cancer. In Breakthrough Breast Cancer we really welcome this as early detection is an important predictor of a good outcome which is why it’s a key focus of our TLC campaign and public health work in general. The link for more information about it is here. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2011/08/01094342
My own experience is of course the reminder of the difference early detection can make, I am here almost 17 years later and although I have now been diagnosed for a second time, that too was an early diagnosis too thanks to my own knowledge of TLC.
But this week I have been thinking of people who have been less fortunate. Discussing what its like at the end of treatment took me to thinking of a good friend who I was with when she finished her course of primary treatment. It was her last radiotherapy treatment and as we went back to the car together she started to sob; she sobbed because she was relieved it was finished, also with a sense of "I cant believe it all really happened" and perhaps most importantly about the worry about what next? It was nearly 20 years ago and I still remember it clearly. We were both in our 30’s and neither of us thought we would be facing such things at that stage in our lives.
She had advanced disease at diagnosis so lost her own battle (and it was at times a real battle) about 11 years later. Her death was undoubtedly one of my low times for many reasons I am sure I don’t need to expand. But the most important of them was that I missed her friendship and still do. The bond created by friendship coupled by the shared experience as well is a special one. It’s a similar bond that makes our Campaigns and Advocacy Network (CAN) in Breakthrough so strong. And for our many other supporters and fundraisers it’s a similar bond that drives them on. I got a note from her family last Christmas saying that they really felt the work we are doing in Breakthrough is changing things and saving lives for people affected by breast cancer now. It was for me a bit like winning an OSCAR-and I will also admit to a bit of a Gwyneth Paltrow moment!
I was watching TV yesterday and saw Dave Stewart talking about a new project and he mentioned about the time he had "The Travelling Willberies" recording in his garden-he is such a lucky man. What amazing memories never of course to be repeated. Have a look for some clips on You-Tube- it could brighten any day. He also spoke of how he unwinds after a busy day. I share it with you not because I recommend this way to relax but his story was full of humour-he has a vodka martini but in moderation he said. His comment is that they are like breasts-one is too few but three is too many! It really made me laugh and also reflect that for me just now that “one and a bit” feels too few as well. I did try the soft prosthesis that I got in the ward the other day. It was eventually propelled across the room with a performance worthy of Gordon Ramsay (not meaning the cooking). My plan is now to sew eyes and a tail on it and donate it to Koshka the cat.
But sometimes one breast just has to be enough I guess, especially if it’s about saving your life of course. I read something today that suggested that not enough women are being offered reconstructive surgery and that does concern me. For some women it will be the only way they can again feel returned to full health and it needs to be a realistic option for them at the right time. Its such a personal thing and my head currently is spinning about what to do for the best. My eyes filled with tears recently when someone with a wealth of experience offered to talk it through with me. I realised in that moment how hard this decision is for me.
So reasons to be cheerful? I am meeting some great people this week to see what they may want to do to help our work in Scotland. We are off to a wedding at the end of the week and my fabulous daughter is joining us too. And that holiday is just around the corner……woo hoo! Oh and I found a really nice two piece "cossie" that doesn’t make me want to kick the mirror! That is no small achievement at this time believe me.