Thursday, May 14, 2009
I wasn't feeling myself
I find I have a confession to make.
Two months ago I went for an annual lady health check and the doctor found a lump in my right breast.
A lump that I hadn't noticed. I will stop here and say "everything was fine" okay? so keep reading. Why hadn't I noticed? because I am not very well endowed so most days my breasts are made up of the latest science and technology available in the Bra Shop.
And what I do have is mostly made up of lumps so how am I to tell?
I should pay more attention I know. My big sister was diagnosed with Breast Cancer just after her 40th birthday in 2006. And yes, she too is okay.
She had an awful time of it, several operations, a long spell of chemo, a lot of worry over getting a reconstruction (she got one - eventually) and then the recovery from all of that.
I saw her at Christmas time and she looks fantastic with her new dark Botticelli curls and pert, buxom bust line. She is doing great thank you.
I also saw her when she got the news, almost 3 years ago. I was there with my Boo for my first trip home in 5 years and she had to go and get bloody cancer.
I was absolutely no use to her and her 3 vibrant and energetic children and supportive pragmatic husband. I had to get on a plane back to the other side of the world and leave them to deal with everything.
My little sister and her family helped out of course and between them all, they got through it.
I'm not sure I would have been much more than moral support if I had have been there.
My "Double Autism" Card would have kept coming up against her Cancer Card and in a lot of ways I think having my situation in closer proximity might have made things harder for everyone.
The family needed to concentrate on the practicalities of having someone very ill to care for a lot of the time - and she needed to care for herself.
When it happened, I felt a selfish grief at potentially being cheated out of my sister.
I also had a strong sense of unfairness about it - "Hang on, I got the Serious Shit to Deal With cards in this family" and that should make everyone else immune, so what's going on here?"
And I am sorry if that offends any of my pro-autism readers. Yes there are a lot of blessings with autism, but there are a lot of challenges and they take a lot of time and energy.
But of course, it doesn't work like that. Just as science and evolution can throw up some roguish DNA that gives you not one but two kids with special needs, it throws sinister cells into people that you love and gives them cancer.
And then 2 months ago, I thought it had gone and thrown those cells at me.
Well my confession is that I am not wonder woman. I am only just about managing to juggle all the balls and spin the plates and put on my lipstick while slipping on my high heels and straightening my hair at the same time now.
I'm just not sure I have anything left over for anything else.
Things turned out okay for me this time. I got a mamo and ultrasound, a consultant felt me up and they all concurred that it was soft movable and not at all sinister tissue, probably as a result of hormones or a knock of some kind.
Say from an overly energetic and growing autistic 11 year old who doesn't know his own strength.
It turns out a lot of women have these lumpy boob scares which turn out to be okay. You only find this out when it happens to you.
And it wasn't so bad. The hospital appointment came mercifully quick and the clinic is in a nice place. The staff and equipment were all neat and efficient. It took a lot of the fear out of it....
Until that moment when they are click clacking across the tiled floor behind the curtain looking at your scans and hesitating while you lie there in a blue gown still damp with the ultrasound goop, experiencing true terror.
I thought I was a pretty brave person. I take whatever is being dished out and stand up to it and even go back in for more.
But this was beyond me.
Still, I got a reprieve this time. And I have resolved since to feel myself regularly and report any changes in the landscape of that region.
3 days later on World Autism Day I had to be the "autism host" at a Charity Penalty Shoot out (a soccer thing) with 14 Irish Celebrities and a load of staff volunteers from one of the major sponsors of Irish Autism; O2. You can read more about this here on my work blog.
Then I had to go on live afternoon television with Boo and Mr Hammie to talk more about world autism day.
It was like water off a duck's back. Because I knew what real fear was. I knew what mattered.
Wherever you are, Find out about Fashion Targets Breast Cancer and be a visible supporter.
And keep feeling yourself.