Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
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12 of 12, April 2018

[Advisory notice: This post contains some fairly frank discussion of what’s been going on with my health in the past couple of months and one graphic but pixellated photo (!). All 12 photos were taken on the 12th, but I’m going to use them to tell more than just the story of that single day.]

Back in January I took up an invitation to attend an appointment for a breast-screening mammogram, only the second I’ve ever had, conducted two years after my first as part of the routine of a publicly available program free to women over 50. [I didn’t actually visit BreastScreen today, but their rooms are in the same building as an appointment I had and so I took advantage of proximity to take this photo in the lift.]

The eventual result of that screening process — after further imaging and biopsies — was a diagnosis of early breast cancer, with four small tumours identified in the left breast (it ended up being six) and a single small tumour in the right. You can probably imagine that it was a bit of a crazy time, with lots of uncertainties, and appointments, and decisions; and although I think I was fairly sanguine and optimistic about the whole thing — and so was mentally doing quite well in one respect — there was also a degree of unsettledness and distractedness suggesting that my head space was also being messed with a bit more than I might have conceded.

Anyway, with decisions made, at the beginning of March I had a double mastectomy. In general I felt and feel pretty okay about this, although two 19cm scars can be a little confronting. The amusing thing was to discover that, although I had gone through my teenage and adult life to this point thinking that I was fairly flat-chested, in reality I had actually been quite buxom in comparison to my new state!

 

Also, my bras are now redundant.

And I now have a very much expanded medical file and a stronger sense of gratitude for the good health that I have enjoyed before now.

However, I have seen far more of the Argyle St car park than I ever want to see again!

But life has been going on, post-surgery, as you already know. I had three weeks off work, although I managed to take my face-to-face class for a slightly-shorter-than-usual session for two of those weeks, and I was back at Scouts fairly soon (as indicated by the next photo, showing the morning after last night’s meeting). However, I have to admit that I probably over-did it a bit, with the surgery and recovery from two doses of anaesthetic probably “taking it out of me” more than I anticipated. 

And so we get to the events of today, which involved two appointments: the first with my surgeon to have a check-up and some fluid drained (I hadn’t realised that this would go on for so long) …

… and the second to meet my oncologist for the first time, where I learned what my next stage of treatment would be. The great news from this appointment was that my cancers were such that they can be treated by hormone tablets (well, the cancers we know about are actually gone already, but the follow-up treatment is in case they left any of their sneaky little cells in my body), and that chemotherapy doesn’t add much to the outcomes. So, it’s a tablet a day for me and no chemo.

A friend had come with me to the appointments and I needed to take her home. She took the last two photos. It was a lovely late afternoon (she tried to convince me that she’d photographed a fish jumping in the first photo!) and I was feeling pretty happy about things, not least because there is now a bit more certainty about what the future might hold, and I can start making plans again instead of being in a strange limbo.

 

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