Friday, 4 July 2014

2 July. Telling People.

It's 6am and I've been awake for well over an hour.   The last couple of nights I have fallen effortlessly into an exhausted sleep but I am waking in the early hours with too much buzzing round my head.  It's Wednesday: one more day until we go to the consultant and find out what Monday's diagnosis means.
I had to give my husband a kick yesterday.  He's a worrier and, like most men, he worries most about things he can't do anything about, especially if they affect the people he loves.  Which is all very sweet but when I found him tearfully contemplating how he was going to cope without me, I had to tell him that enough was enough.
I might have breast cancer but I am not dying yet!
And the more I talk to people, the more stories I find to reassure me.  Is it my imagination or is breast cancer more common these days?  Everyone seems to have a story about someone who has had it, been through the treatment and is just fine now.  And so I tell my husband to stop thinking cancer, and see it as just a medical condition that can be treated.  And I try not to listen to the dark voice of the night that says, but what if it comes back, what if this is just the beginning...
Enough of that!  Now I have to think about terribly practical things like the etiquette of telling people.  As an expat, I have many dear friends around the globe and time passes between our communications.  Dropping them a line doesn't feel quite right: Hi, how are you?  We're still living in Belgium and loving it.  The kids are fine.  BTW, I've just found out that I've got breast cancer.  How are things with you?   But if you don't tell people then the Chinese Whispers start -  I've already had a message from a friend who works with my husband and is offering help because she has heard that I am 'terribly ill.' 
Perhaps I should Facebook it.  Status: Breast Cancer.  Don't worry, I'll be fine.
Of course the real issue is how to tell my family.  How do I tell my dad who is in his eighties and a terrible worrier at the best of times, that his youngest daughter might not be able to come to see him next week as planned because I have to start treatment for my cancer?  Do I mention it to my brother when I call to congratulate him on his fiftieth birthday or should I wait until after the family party in case it puts  a bit of a downer on things?
Oh heck, I'm just going to keep my head down for one more day and hope that tomorrow brings some answers to everybody's questions.
I'm scared.  I can't deny it.  I don't want to have to tell people and be reassuring and tell them I'm going to be fine.  I want to howl and tell them it isn't fair and I'm scared that's its in my lymph nodes.  But if I start to unwravel, I might not stop.  My daughter is crying becuase the cast on her broken leg is rubbing and it hurts.  She needs me to be strong.  The whole family need me to be strong. 
One day at a time.

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