Cancer diagnosis

I'd been going through the options in my head - what if it's cancer? what if it's spread? but I never really believed it was cancer - I was still working, going out and the physio and personal training sessions were helping my hip/pelvis. I convinced myself it had taken too long to get the results for bad news, wouldn't be one of the statistics. So, when Mr Leff said the lumps were cancer, I felt an overwhelming sense of numbness more than anything else.

I also had to get my head around the impact of the diagnosis. It was just me now, no partner to pick me up an get me through it. There was working through the treatment. I was living with a live in landlord who worked from home - she wouldn't want me being poorly around the house all day. Did I stay in London or go and stay with friends/family? Should I move back to NZ? How could I tell my mum who had recently lost one daughter and her husband and how could I tell Matt's parents after they had lost two sons and Jenni had been through breast cancer?

As tends to happen, life has a way of making decisions for you. The best option treatment wise was to stay in London, however Charing Cross hospital was three tube trains and a 10 mins walk so I requested to transfer to Guy's Hospital, which is where I used to work and was just across the road from London Bridge Tube Station. Thankfully the transfer when relatively smoothly but did put me in the care of the dire Prof Douek. It was agreed I would move out my current flat and move closer to London Bridge and I found a lovely, light flat across the road from Tooting Bec Common to move to which had space for friends and family to come and stay. Work are/were incredibly supportive, allowing me to take time of for all the scans and tests that followed the initial diagnosis and allowing me to work from home when needed.

Mr Leff and the lovely breast care nurse, Orla, at Charing Cross arranged for another biopsy, a CT Thorax abdomen pelvis with contrast and NM Bone whole body scan. These were done on Tuesday 27 March. I then saw Prof Douek at Guy's Hospital on Thursday 29 March. His clinic was over two hours late and when I was finally called to his clinic, he barely glanced up from his computer to acknowledge me. Without introducing himself, or the other people in the room, he grilled me on when I first noticed my lump and why I had moved from Charing Cross to Guy's Hospital. He seemed very put out about me transferring and implied it would delay treatment and actually, from the notes, I had a small lump, the cancer hadn't spread to the lymph nodes and 99% of the time breast cancer's don't spread so they wouldn't have done the CT or bone scans. In complete contrast, the breast care nurse, Vanessa, was amazing. She was compassionate, caring and listened. She explained that I would need to wait for the results from the second biopsy and scans before they could confirm treatment but it was likely that it would start in the next 10 days.

My first oncology appointment was scheduled for Monday 9 April, however they still didn't have the results from scans so they couldn't confirm my treatment plan. The proposed plan was that I would have 8 cycles of chemo followed by surgery and then radiotherapy. Another oncology appointment was scheduled for Tuesday 17 April and it was here I met Dr Ines Sandri, and my breast care nurse, Alison Prince, two wonderful women who combine knowledge with empathy and make me feel like a person, not a statistic. It was at this appointment that I was told that the cancer had spread to my bones and so was life limiting. Not only did I have breast cancer but I also had cancer in the spine, pelvis and femur and substantial osteoarthritis in the neck and spine. Bloody hell!!! At least that explained the pain in my hips/pelvis from last September - it seems I might have a fracture there as a result of the bone cancer.

This new diagnosis sent my head spinning yet again but there was a tiny part of me that felt calm as I'd experienced how Matt had coped with his diagnosis and treatment which meant I didn't feel scared - I'm going to take this on and do him proud!

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