Diary Of A Breast Cancer Patient #1: The Perils Of Google Before Surgery

Angelina Jolie has just had a double masectomy to avoid breast cancer - here a patient reveals what she's hopefully successfully swerved.
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Angelina Jolie has just had a double masectomy to avoid breast cancer - here a patient reveals what she's hopefully successfully swerved.

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I arrived at the hospital at 7:30am. It had already been 12 hours since I had something to eat but I was down for a morning surgery so hopefully I wouldn't have too long to wait. I was shown to my bed and Darren and I began to make ourselves at home. I was on a ward with 3 other ladies all there with breast cancer. I again was the youngest, with the other ladies being in their 50s-70s.

Within minutes of us being there nurses, doctors and anaesthetists began doing the rounds, taking blood pressures and going over the same questions again and again. By 8:30am the first lady was being taken down to theatre. Then the second lady was being taken down by 9:00am. This is good I thought, I'll be down and home before I know it. The second lady was back by 10:30am and sat up in bed and eating. She looked pretty amazing considering she had just had surgery. This was all making me feel better.

Round about this time I was called by the nurse along with another lady from a different room to go down to the x-ray department. It was time for me to have my radioactive injection before my x-ray to detect my lymph nodes.

Whilst waiting outside the x-ray room the other lady began talking to me. I never found out her name but for the purpose of this blog I shall call her Lady Doom! She began telling me that this was the second time that she had breast cancer and that it’s a long and miserable time ahead of me. She also began to tell me that this was her 4th time of having surgery and how awful it's been and well, you get the general idea. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not belittling what she has gone through and I was truly sympathetic of her ordeal but sometimes you just don't want to hear the bad stuff. I'm trying my best to remain positive and it really isn't easy and at this moment in time I just didn't need it. I just wanted this day to be over and as quickly as possible.

Lady Doom was having none of it! "No, no" she said "you're having the blue dye now and you will need to come back for more surgery if they detect more cancer because it takes a week for the results to come back"

Lady Doom is obviously older than me and her type of cancer is probably different to mine so obviously her treatment has been different, but she had it in her head that I would be having exactly the same treatment as her. She asked if I was having the blue dye injected into me now and I explained that no, the blue dye would be injected into me once I was under the anaesthetic. I also explained that right now I was having a radioactive jab so that the lymph nodes could be detected before surgery and that my lymph nodes would be examined whilst I was asleep to detect if the cancer had spread and that if it had then more lymph nodes would be taken there and then. Well Lady Doom was having none of it! "No, no" she said "you're having the blue dye now and you will need to come back for more surgery if they detect more cancer because it takes a week for the results to come back" This then got me panicking because I didn't want the blue dye while I was awake. I was already over anxious about being injected with radioactive liquid. Oh god, I didn't listen to my consultant properly! Oh shit, I can't do this! I just can't do it! My palms started sweating and Darren could sense my unease. Lady Doom was called in for her jab and x-ray and Darren began calming my fears. "No Lorna, you did listen to your consultant properly. She is having different treatment to you because her case is different to yours. Don't listen to her just concentrate on what you know" and of course he was right. The nurse called me in for my jab and she confirmed for me that this was the radioactive jab and not the blue dye that I would be having. I was now feeling calmer once more.

I say calmer but I have to admit I had been googling about radioactive jabs. Google told me that it would be 4 jabs in my nipple and that it would feel like burning acid going into me. Ladies were being held down by nurses and it was literally the worst thing EVER! So I laid down on the bed, pulling my own hair and waited. I was waiting for the most horrible pain I could imagine. I took a quick look at the needle and it was tiny. Probably only holding 2/3 teaspoons of liquid but you know RADIOACTIVE! The nurse found her spot just above my nipple and warned me that I might experience some stinging. I closed my eyes and grabbed her shirt. It started to sting a little and then the nurse took some cotton and began rubbing the area. THAT WAS IT! For fuck sake! I began laughing like a loon. The nurse asked if I was ok and I told her just how much of a state I had been getting myself into over this. I felt totally ridiculous. The moral of this story is don’t bloody Google. EVER!!!

Apart from a slightly warm feeling in my face I had no other effects. I kept waiting for them but no, nothing. Radioactive jabs are pretty boring and no I can't fly and I'm not the Incredible Hulk. Most disappointing to say the least.

Anyway after about 10 minutes I was called into the x-ray room where I was told to lay down on the bed with my arms above my head. A rather impressive machine which was rather like a car wash but without the brushes was brought over to above my head. The square camera was moved down to inches above my face and I just had to lie there for five minutes while it did its thing. The camera was then positioned to the side of me and once again I kept still for five minutes and then it was repeated once more. Once the nurse had all the pictures she needed she grabbed her marker pen and began scribbling all over my armpit and black arrows were drawn all up my arm. I felt like an easel. Once completed I was sent back to the ward and told my surgery shouldn't be too long as Lady Doom was already in theatre.

 I felt like I was on Stars In Their Eyes but without the smoke. Tonight Matthew I'm going to be Michael Jackson. Bring on the propofol!

By this time I was absolutely starving. I hadn't eaten since 7:00pm the previous night and my last drink was around 11:00pm. All the ladies from my room had been for their surgery and one had even been sent home. It was coming up for 1oclock in the afternoon and I was getting concerned that I had been forgotten. I gave Darren a kick and asked him to find out what was happening. He went and found a nurse and came back and told me that they would be ready for me at 2pm....holy shit! I WANT FOOD!!

2pm soon came around though and I was taken down to theatre. Darren was allowed to walk me to the doors but we had to say our goodbyes there. We said our "I love yous" and I went through the double doors turning round to give Darren one last wave. I felt like I was on Stars In Their Eyes but without the smoke. Tonight Matthew I'm going to be Michael Jackson. Bring on the propofol!

I laid on my bed, got my iv put in and was sent into a lovely sleep. Next thing I knew I could hear my doctor saying it hasn't spread, no cancer in my lymph nodes. My first slurry words were "yay...Lorna 1 - Cancer 0" She laughed and said goodbye as I was wheeled back to the ward where Darren was waiting for me. I couldn't open my eyes at this point as I had been given too much morphine and the room was just spinning. It was awful and I was like this for a good couple of hours. It took me ages to come round properly and the nurses were quite concerned because I was breathing quite slowly.

They warned me that I would have to stay in for the night and that they needed to make a decision by 8pm. It was now 6:30pm. I kept trying to open my eyes for longer periods and I positioned my bed so that I was sat more upright. This helped a lot. I drank some water and slowly ate some toast although I kept drifting off between mouthfuls. By about 7pm the dizziness had worn off and my mum arrived with my step dad. I wanted to go home so much but I was also afraid that if I went home too soon and I felt bad that I might have a panic attack. My mum told me not to think about that and she felt that being at home would be better for me so she got me up on my feet and took me to the toilet. I have never felt so weak in all my life. We finally made it to the loo and my mum came in with me. This was an experience in itself. I finally managed to wee and I looked at my tissue, you know, like you do....and it was bright blue. I laughed and showed my mum and she said "ooh quick stand up, let's have a look" So stand up I did. "Wow" said mum "That is the prettiest blue I have ever seen" and you know something, she was right. We had a giggle and then I hugged her and started to cry. I told her that I was sorry for crying and I said that I knew that I was a bit drunk right now but I told my mum, there in the loo, looking down at my blue wee that I loved her. She started to cry too and she said that she loved me too and that she was proud of me and that I was doing really well. That was all I needed.

I managed to walk back to my bed a bit steadier and the nurse said that she was happy for me to go home. I was given my painkillers and given a wheelchair to get me to the car. Once home my mum helped me up to bed and my kids all came up for a cuddle. It was good to be home.

I did it! Surgery done and all them worries and fears were for nothing! BLOODY TYPICAL!

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