It’s Tuesday, so I do what I always do on a Tuesday. I get up and take my morphine and, to ward off the dreaded constipation, its ‘sad little mate’, coloxyl and senna. I shower and rub on the cream that has almost vanished the horrific burn I copped from the radiotherapy. I dress and make sure I don’t forget to pop in my tit. Too often at work I have looked down and – whoops! Fly back to the car and the house for the prosthesis. I do the face and eye creams and the make-up. I give the wig a spray of water and a few shakes before I put it on. Then I am at last ready for the world.
At work it’s business as usual. I don’t lift anymore, but that is my only concession, and the only one made to me by my workmates. But this is Tuesday.
On Tuesdays I turn my phone to divert for an hour and talk with twenty other women who have also taken the morph, donned the wig, crisped up with the radiotherapy and dreaded the chemo. I can speak with others who know it’s there in the bone or the lung or the liver or the brain or any combination of the above. Women who understand the they will probably not get well from this scourge. Friends who have cancerous bones steadied with steel and tumorous kidneys bypassed with surgery. People for whom an ache in the foot means ‘Oh shit, I need some radiotherapy’, and after a bone scan result dig out the sick bowl and bandanas. Sounds hopeless and helpless. It’s not.
In those first dreadful months, I realised in my rare lucid moments that I craved contact with women who were also dying from the same bitch that had somehow snuck up on me. Instead, I found myself surrounded by women who were living with it. Their routines were interrupted by treatments, medical appointments and setbacks, but their lives went on and were rich and wonderful. I had never imagined that.
So on Tuesdays we talk about medication and husbands and government policies. We read with envy postcards from those of us who are in France or Turkey. We chat about the mundane and mention the unmentionable. Most of all, we acknowledge and celebrate the fact that there is life after a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer.
To this group I bring all the questions and sadness that my dear loving family could never come close to understanding. From this group I gain answers and ears and tips, but most of all, the knowledge that I can live on and contribute to this wonderful world of which I am a very special part.
The hour goes so fast and the business calls start again, but Tuesday is the one day when I know my heart will be enriched and my spirits lifted, thanks to our group.
This has been reproduced with persmission from the author and publisher. Taken from the book Armed with Chocolate Frogs – Living with advanced breast cancer. Kate Carey Productions