“Thank god you’re feeling better” Michael muttered, in response to my threat to jump up and down on his reading glasses, all nine pairs of which were missing. These new chemo drugs are a different animal entirely and I realise now how lucky I have been so far. The new medicine is sneaky. It lulls you into a false sense of security for five days before smacking you in the face with a shovel. It’s no coincidence that the onset of side effects kick in when the steroid tablets run out, so for the first few days I’m bouncing off the walls; a manic, slightly hysterical ball of nervous energy, before being struck down with the mother of all come downs accompanied by a headache which prevents me from lifting my head off the pillow. It’s (not) affectionately known as the tax train because it feels like you’ve been run over by one. And then three days later it’s like someone has flipped a switch and it’s back to normal. I’ve escaped so far with only one trip to A&E with suspected infection which can kill you down dead if you’re not hooked up to IV antibiotics pretty fast. Weird, scary shit.
Still, two to go and anybody can manage that, even scaredy-cat me.
Met with my consultant last week (major girl crush) and I have surgery booked for 10th Jan. Until now I have compartmentalised each stage of my treatment but it’s time to open the box marked “Losing the boob I thought was my friend but turns out is a traitorous bastard”. It’s a big deal. The Marsden approach is less risk averse than most trusts so my surgeon will be attempting an immediate reconstruction despite phase 3 of treatment being 20 radiotherapy sessions, which can cause the implant to fail. I saw pictures of patients who have undergone the same procedure and results are impressive- I mean I’m not going to be on page 3 anytime soon but still (can you believe page 3 even actually existed! This century!! Jesus our children will think that is MENTAL) I have faith in my team, otherwise this process would be absolutely terrifying.
So I’ve got 8 weeks to come to terms with losing a part of me- an integral part of my femininity and sexuality. We’ve got into trouble a fair few times, various wardrobe malfunctions etc… and I guess I should have realised what the difference is between a conference call and a webinar, I wasn’t expecting cameras. I’m sure there are a few of the other 20 virtual attendees that are still traumatised. There have been some jolly fun times too but no one needs to know about those not least my parents. I did once regard my boobs as my greatest physical asset, and working next door to a fire station for ten years I would secretly be thrilled when occasionally a fireman (person?) would flash the lights and sound the siren as I strutted past (sorry ardent feminists). I did notice these times got fewer and further between as the years rolled by. The final occasion I coyly fluttered my eyelashes only to realise the fire brigade were responding to an emergency and telling me to GET THE FUCK out of the way. Little bit mortifying.
I’m writing this as I sit on my four poster bed in a beautiful pub in Wingham, having left Super Ted at home with my amazing bestie. Tomorrow I am 40, a day I dreaded before. Ironically I now can’t wait for the day I am 45, when chances of survival dramatically increase.
Next week I’ll be remembering our darkly comic, infuriatingly stubborn, beautiful boy Mavs who should be celebrating his 38th birthday, but was stolen by cancer almost nine years ago. He lived with incurable disease for almost five years. I wish I knew then what I know now. I wish I could have supported him better than I did. We were so young. We all still miss him terribly.
Thank you to everybody that continues to support me, I can never explain adequately what it means to me. Thank you to all of those who have so kindly contributed to my birthday fundraiser, including many people I have never even met. Times are tough for lots of people, it means so much. Here’s the link just in case! https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alys-courtney1?fbclid=IwAR3ymM8VPdping9MU1qY-VC5oo1HsGU0G1TDWnmxZppdMRyTm5XO9Qtohac&utm_campaign=pfp-share&utm_content=Alys-Courtney1&utm_medium=fundraisingpage&utm_source=Facebook
Super Ted update- he can say “mummy” !Nanny says he is talking to the remote control.