Breast Cancer, Anniversaries and Me

On the 8th February 2021, on our anniversary of 7 years Civilised and 28 years together, I lay, arms and hands above my head, not in bed but in a CT scan, preparations for radiotherapy.  Ball bearings placed, with navy blue ink markers and permanent tattoos drawn, four dots.  I admire the team, wonder at their Monday morning work routines.  I see the green trees, white flowers and blue skies located on the ceiling, the outdoor bought in.  They leave, the team and I slip back into the scan with its whirling wheel of fortune.  It triggers the MRI and the feeling your body will disobey this rule and move.  It makes me worry about the radiotherapy; will I move once they say ‘don’t’.  Its my left breast, my heart and lung.  I read the risk and sign the consent.  It’s rare, like the tablets, a long list identifying risk. 

My wife is outside waiting in the snow, has nipped to the shops, for essential treats and flowers, tulips, for our anniversary.  Our usual escape to the Hytte, our retreat, rest and recover from our fast lane life, postponed in this never-ending lockdown 3.  Back home I undress to shower, see the blue lines and dots drawn, my white bra spoilt.  A parcel arrives, it’s a line of hearts, fairy lights, copper infused for 7 years and a present for my wife.  Later after an artic walk with our dog, the wife has strung the lights up and we celebrate, champagne, candles, and food.  Whilst my wife cooks, I begin to play with the lights, pressing 1-8 to see the options, pressing ON and OFF, the lights, music and oven blow.  Oh how we laughed…….my wife is good in the kitchen and makes things right.  Later we watch the sky dance with its bags of snow, in the morning Newcastle looks like a snow globe, we both love each other and our view. 

The tablets are kicking in, my head feels fuzzy, weird and I am unsure of my body, how its reacting.  The flushes, as the side effects warn, are hot and intense, my surgical stockings I want to rip off and I’m trying to adjust.  On Monday I start the radiotherapy, three weeks in one and intense. 

Sometimes I read stories, research secondary and terminal outcomes, I think this is normal.  I’m curious, I guess because I feel safe, whereas before I needed blue skies and ice cream.

I feel guilty about work, about when I’m back and how. I am trying to see myself in Lesvos, us dancing, drinking late and skinny dipping.  I’m thinking about our years together, 28 and 7, our families separated, babies being born and those facing loss. 

I’m grateful, blessed and loved. 

I’m lucky.

Catrina

2 thoughts on “Breast Cancer, Anniversaries and Me”

  1. Such a wonderfully written piece, so evokative of my partners treatment, especially her new tattoos. Hers too was 3 weeks of intensive radio-therapy. It drained her so but, somehow, she still found the energy to make me laugh. Thank you for sharing and best wishes.

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