This was me, going to pick my results from the hospital.
This was me, after I’d gotten them.
‘Invasive Lobular Carcinoma’, ‘….‘malignant epitelial cells …… tumour extending up to resection margins’,
These are some of the words I saw in the pathology report. Now, I have more than my share of not so bright moments but even I knew this did not look good.
It was a Friday evening. I’d passed by the hospital on my way to meet my friend, Carol, for our monthly cocktail night (sometimes we don’t wait for the month to end-good times). I got the results from the lab technician. It was a quiet evening and the hospital was about to close (it’s one of those fancy ones that close early). After quickly glancing through it, some of those words seemed dubious. So I asked to see the doctor on duty to interpret them for me.
I will call him Dr. No beating about the bush.
Blissfully ignorant Linda: Good evening Dr. (as he was reading the report) So I just got these results for an operation performed two weeks ago and was wondering if you could help explain them to me.
Dr. No beating about the bush: Well Linda. What this means is that you have Cancer…on your right breast.
Blissfully ignorant Linda: Cancer? The type that kills people?
Dr. No beating about the bush: Not if you treat it early. You see..this was a small lump they found so it’s still in early stages
Not so Blissfully ignorant Linda: So what should I do?
(I was kinda hoping he’d offer a pill to swallow)
Dr. No beating about the bush: Well..I would recommend that first of all, you have another operation to cut off the entire breast. You might need 6-8 rounds of chemotherapy, then radiotherapy and then you’ll be done.
He afterwards proceeded to draw a sketch of where the lump was found, etc.. I wasn’t listening.
Because of the shock, all I was thinking was that I was going to die-without my breast moreover (For a girl with tiny boobs, I cared about them alot). Also, I didn’t think my chances with our Ugandan health system were very good. I was scared. Scared of how I was going to tell my mother, that I’d die a slow, painful and sure death, that I wouldn’t be able to afford whatever treatments I’d need……I was scared like shit.
It’s a blessing that I was meeting Carol that evening. It was also a blessing that the hospital was close to our rendezvous spot because I could hardly see the road through my tears and bothered state. She’s a lawyer, so I think it comes naturally to her to be rational and think calmly during crisis. Even with me sobbing and rumbling about how I was going to die a breast-less death, she was working out a game plan and I was instructed to obey her orders.
I wanted to go home – she decided it would be better if I had a game plan first to give me something solid to sleep on. I wanted to call my mother – she advised me to call my big sister first. She’s rational this Carol, me likey 🙂
We didn’t get to drink cocktails that night. We didn’t laugh much either (apart from when I was begging her to touch my chest before it changed ‘forever’ – I tend to be abit of a drama queen when in crisis). But together with my big sister, we formulated a plan, to the point of making the first in a series of appointments for second opinions with oncologists and surgeons. We’d first figure out what we were dealing with before going into a panic.
These were the only people who knew about my diagnosis that night.