Susan's Journey

Listen to your body, it could just
save your life...

I felt a lump and was told it was just fatty tissue. I had a number of previous ops in my 20's and 30's, all benign, so accepted what he said. Lesson 1 - Listen to your body , and don't be fobbed off .

I was called for a routine mammogram in March 2012 and was called back within a week. I wasn't too fussed and didn't take notice of the bit that read I might need a biopsy. So I wasn't prepared and went alone . It wasn't a pleasant experience. 
The experience had me thinking, especially as she insisted that I bring someone to the appointment the week after . With as usual me saying "No, I will be fine " , and her being quite firm in saying I really ought to bring someone with me. This was my amber light moment , well before turning green on the cancer merry go round. Lesson 2 - Read the small print

After this the actual news was not much of a shock . And so the fun began, having all the tests and a mastectomy with 14 days of being diagnosed. I cannot fault the NHS . However , in hindsight I should have asked more questions . As to why and what other options there were available.

There was a blip when it came to me seeing the Oncologist . Apparently she was away for 3 weeks and so I was going to have to wait 6 weeks after surgery to even get an appointment.

I had already found the Macmillan site and found this a great way to talk with people who understood what I was going through physically and mentally. I did not want to worry my nearest and dearest , I couldn't cope with their worries as well ! So, I also used the Mac site to find out if I was being unreasonable , not wanting to wait so long to see the oncologist . They were so supportive and told me the NHS guidelines was that you should see the oncologist within 4 weeks of surgery. So armed with this I went into attack mode and got referred to another hospital and was seen within 2 weeks .

Now , I know it probably would not have made a difference to the end result physically but mentally I just needed to know that every last bit of the disease was eradicated ...... with no time to waste,like yesterday !!!!
I was relatively lucky with chemo, yes I lost hair, appetite and at times the will to carry on, but I did .

"What I didn't bargain for was how long it would take for me to recover"  

One big shock to me as well as others on the Mac site was obviously the sad death of Annabel. It really brought it home that this bl**dy disease was indiscriminate . This helped to create Annabel's Angels and the lasting friendships I have made since her passing,we all, the Class of 2012 clung to each other. Although initially only online, strong friendships have emerged .
It sort of made some kind of sense of it all . I feel blessed to have known each and everyone I met during those days .

What I didn't bargain for was how long it would take for me to recover .
Because with chemo you sort of got into a rhythm, the first week rotten, the second week better and the third week before the next dose, almost "normal" .
I was such a shock that it took months for me to feel even remotely better.
Because hair started to grow back , my physical strength got stronger , I could not understand how I was emotionally all over the place. People would say how much better I looked , that the worst was over
and I could start to get back to " normal".
I seriously doubted I would ever be normal again .

"Life's too damn short,
even without having
had "C" -

Now 3 1/2 years later I have learnt to live with the new normal .
I still, like most of the ladies, have wobbles, every time I get a twinge, ache or pain, the first thought is .... Is it the cancer ? That may always be be with me, just to a lesser degree maybe, hopefully .

But, I won't let that spoil the rest of my life. Life's too damn short, even without having had "C".

So, as the song says,'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger', and I now feel that is true.

Would I have done a 1/2 marathon before ?No way.
Would I have done so much fund raising ?Probably not.
Would I have met so many ordinary but inspirational women ?No way.
So thank you cancer for all of that.... BUT ...please stay away


         Susan Taber -