Hello. My name is Rosie. I’m 37 years old. I am a wife and mother of 2, living in NW London. I am Jewish. I have a double First from Oxford. I am a partner in a City law firm. And I have cancer.
There. Said it. The “c” word. First and last time in this blog. I have named my “c” Genghis. It’s aggressive, moves fast and wants to take over. My job is to repel it. No more “c” word. Just Genghis.
Genghis isn’t going to define me. You’ll notice that it’s the last thing on my list of who I am. Not the first. Not even high up on the list. I’m going to carry on being all of those other things long after Genghis has been vanquished. It will just drop off the end of my self-description and leave the rest standing. In legal terms, we can apply the “blue pencil” test to Genghis. The rest of the person will still stand.
It’s been two weeks since I first found Genghis. I didn’t know what it was then. It was a lump. It felt a bit hard. I convinced myself it was a cyst. The GP said he thought it was a cyst, but best get it checked out. That was a Friday. I spent the weekend convincing myself it was a cyst and on Monday I had a full day business trip, so easy not to think about it too much. But I had enough time to do some Googling. And I’m not thick. I can translate what the internet says into how to assess my own situation. So on Tuesday morning, I was pretty sure. And then I went to see the breast consultant on Tuesday evening, and he examines me briefly, and from his face and demeanour I know straight away that it’s not a cyst. Mammogram (yuk), ultrasound, core biopsy (double yuk) all on the spot. Radiographer says “It doesn’t look benign” (I’d guessed that, looking at the ultrasound picture and applying my Google knowledge). Back to see consultant – he has a “suspicion” about the lump.
So the worst part was leaving the hospital that evening and calling my parents to tell them. I thought my dad would go into meltdown. My mum had breast cancer five years ago, and although she’s fine, he’s still paranoid (about everything, but particularly cancer). But it turns out dad was out that evening, so I get to tell mum first, which was about the best thing about the whole awful situation. And she told my dad, who called me back and was fine. Not great, but fine.
Two days later, on Thursday – a week ago today – it’s back to see the consultant for the results. Not that I had any doubt. He says it is “treatable”. I.e. not a death sentence. Some good news, then. Then there’s to be a barrage of tests – CT, MRI, bone scan, bloods. I have to talk with a genetic counsellor in case it’s BRCA1 or BRCA2. Head spins.
The last week has been even more head spinning. Fixing appointments. Dealing with various insurances. Telling friends. Telling people at work. Going to scans – very nervous for each, pulse racing, blood pressure up. I find out quickly from my consultant that the CT is clear – phew. But then why doesn’t he ring immediately after the MRI or bone scan? Elation to despair and back again. But all in the manner of a swan – calm and collected on the surface, for everyone’s sake. If I worry outwardly, that worry is only going to be reflected back to me in my husband’s face, the faces of my parents and children, so that will make it worse. If I’m calm, they’ll be calm, and then it will all be alright – won’t it?
So today feels like the biggest day yet. The day I find out all my results (except the genetic tests) – what sort of tumour Genghis is; whether it has invaded anywhere else; hopefully a little more information on possible treatment and timing. This is my first big battle with Genghis – the battle for knowledge and for control. Once I have my strategy mapped out, I can go to war with all guns blazing. Today is for battle planning – looking at the map and seeing how and where and when to attack. I’ll need the best generals with me. Then we can go over the top.