This is Personal
Surgery day: Friday 6th December 2019.
Sometimes life throws some stuff at you that makes you sit up and think differently. There comes a time when no matter how hard or overwhelming, you have to take responsibility for your mind, spirit and emotions. It’s personal.
I woke up at 4.30am an hour before my alarm was due to go off. Great – more thinking time!
Self-talk is a wonderful thing; “Claudine come on you have got this,” it was the last bits of control that I was clinging on to.
Gary Chapman talks about 5 love languages, and how love is spoken and received: acts of service, physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time and gifts. For relationships to be successful I believe an understanding of love languages helps make for a better journey. My dominant love language is quality time. So when some of my relatives travelled from the other side of London, and Surrey around 20 miles at 6.30am, just to spend 10 minutes with me and to hug me before surgery, this gesture was indeed priceless. It adds strength to my soul and reassures my mind.
Running a business has taught me to see obstacles as opportunities. The overwhelming feeling of weakness, that came to challenge my heart and mind must be turned into strength for the next phase of my life. In this moment I actually have no idea how I am going to make this work, and I am at peace and okay with not having the answer.
The medical team were incredible, the :
They came to see me 1 by 1; the information was a lot to take in.
I appreciated the intelligent questions asked by my children:
How many lymph nodes will you take?
What is the purpose of the lymph node?
What happens if surgery takes longer than 8 hours?
What happens if the lymph nodes come back as negative?
What are the options if they come back positive?
Nurse Blue came to help me put on the decompression socks. “Okay Claudine ready, let’s go.” My mum was on a What’s app video call, my amazing husband and fabulous children; we embraced as I tried to keep my mind clear.
“Okay guys- see you in 8 hours” I managed to squeeze out whilst staying calm.
”Let me give you something to make you feel happy”– was the last thing I can remember the Anaesthetist saying.
My room was hot, they must know I like Bahamas like temperature, the bed was hot the blankets were not.
The rest I leave in the hands of the team. When I wake up I’ll have a mastectomy and re-construction on my left breast. Removal of the cancer, the tissue (also commonly referred to as fat) removed from my stomach to reconstruct my left breast. On the bright side at least I don’t need silicone implants, on the negative side – that means I’ve got a lot of fat on my stomach to go up a cup if I desire.
Of greater concern I’ll have a new body shape, deformed with only 1 breast. Furthermore, my left breast will be nipple-less for 6 months until it gets tattooed, what will I look like?!!! Not sure how I feel about this. I could hear both my cancer surviving aunties in my head: “Claudine you will be fine – look at me.” The truth is: strength is personal, perspective is personal, mental health is personal, emotions are personal, breast cancer is personal.
I’m sharing this because I want you to get comfortable with checking your breasts (If you are a male check yours too because breast cancer doesn’t only affect women). Recognise what “normal” looks like so that you can be aware when things are abnormal. Cancer does not discriminate!) I know this to be true.