Been a long time since I blogged – part laziness, part where to start, part may as well see the month out and count the fuckups. June came at me like the wicked witch of the west. I found a lump. Lying on the couch late one Friday watching Mansfield Park, credits about to roll, I drop biscuit crumbs on my chest. Brush them away and excuse me! WTF was that???
Out of hrs service Sat morn confirm it’s not crumbs, but a solid mobile inch sized lump on my right breast. They look concerned and tell me to go to my GP first thing Mon. GP calls it breast mice. Which is medical talk for benign. It makes me laugh and the stress barometer drops. I leave the lead coat of fear behind and skip down the road. By the time I get to work I’m as high as a fucking astronaut and am telling everyone not to worry I haven’t got breast cancer, it’s just a mouse. Bloody cat eh? I joke. She can’t stop bringing me things. Have to put them somewhere. I get a 2 week wait appt and the euphoria beings to wear off and days get physically difficult. I mean physically in the sense of the noun – physics seems to have grown new rules and gravity seems to have bigged itself up. It feels tiring to walk, sit, read, watch TV, eat, sleep, just doing normal things takes a hellofalot of effort. I think about dying and I think about surgery and chemo and wigs and nausea and scars and I think that I can’t face getting cancer again. I think about the other times and how lucky I was in my 30s and then in my 40s and I wonder if you can get it a third time and survive. I google people who have had cancer more than twice and there are some famous people who have survived. I haven’t made a will and tell myself I need to. A few days later I come home from work knackered and fall asleep. I wake up around midnight and check my phone. I’ve an email. It’s from New Writing North. I can see the subject says Good News re Awards. I think it’s a general one announcing this years winners. I’m to numb to care that I’ve missed another literary boat so I open it and it’s addressed to me personally and it says congratulations you’re a winner!. I’ve won a cash prose award. It’s worth 1500 quid and Sarah Hall was the judge. I burst into tears and I tell cancer to fuck right off.
The clinic day comes and I go in and have another examination and then a mammogram and an ultrasound and then a biopsy and then they say they can’t tell me anything until the biopsy results, so it’s another week. I push them and the doc says I’m a 3, which means indeterminate, they don’t know if it’s good or bad, but it’s probably more likely to be good than bad, which is good news I think.. My friend Kay is with me and we watch a programme on the widescreen TV as we wait between tests. It’s a documentary accident and emergency show. Someone needs to be airlifted and they don’t want to go because they’re frightened of helicopters. I think you stupid bastard, you’ve only broken a leg, just shut your eyes for an hr. I have to come back in a week for the results and my imagination keeps me entertained with sad scenes and funny scenes and fights at my funeral and posthumous dedications to my nomadic lifestyle. I log on to Suzy Greaves Big Leap to keep the critical pessimist in me under control. I tell cancer to fuck off again, I talk to it a lot like it’s a boyfriend that’s really pissed me off. I sing terrible lyrics to it in the bath. I ridicule it in the kitchen. I call it out in the lounge. I lose sleep over it in bed. And I cry over it.
The results day brings my cousin Pauline down from Middlesbrough on the coach and we sit in the large waiting room that it is the surgical breast clinic for nearly 4 hrs. My 10.30 appt morphs into a 1.30. I’m not alone with this long wait. One person kicks off and then leaves. Everybody in there is anxious. My cousin nearly has a fight with someone who goes before me who she thinks came after me. I don’t mind them jumping the queue because whilst I’m sitting there not knowing my fate I haven’t got a label that might say cancer. I go in and we wait in a very small room for half an hour and then in comes my young bespectacled doc. A nurse follows her. I can’t look at them. It’s good news. That’s what the doc says. It is a mouse! It’s a benign fibroadenoma kind of mouse. I burst into tears again. Didn’t realise winning made you cry this much.