I remember when I was young and seeing my dad leaning close to my mother’s ear whispering, “Harry down the street has a …” Dad would look around the room to make sure no one was within earshot. “Harry has a growth.”
Everyone would avoid Harry as if he had been diagnosed with the clap. It was the big c word and had a big stigma attached. CANCER.
Roll the clock forward 40 years and things have changed for the better.
Cancer is talked about at the dinner table. People are only too happy to help and even raise money for the purpose of conquering this crushing disease. The media floodgates have really opened on this debilitating sickness.
I feel fortunate that support was all around me during my cancer journey, unlike some people of an era gone by. If I felt melancholy or out of sorts there was always someone there to assess the situation and give me a cuddle or a kick, whatever I needed.
In 2005 I was diagnosed with high grade breast cancer. High grade meaning the bloody thing had teeth and its primary purpose was to take me out. After the doctor told me I had a breast tumour I drove around aimlessly with ky jelly over my boobs and on my steering wheel, as well as vomit in a beach towel on the passenger seat of my car. My body had decided to give up my lunch with the news that I was harbouring an alien in one of my girls.
The very first person I told was the coffee shop owner who worked next to my salon. He put his hand on my shoulder and asked in a soft toned voice, “Are you OK?” I became a sniffling sap. Spluttering between gasps I managed to tell him what had transpired at the clinic. As the tears began to subside the numbness set in and what was at first a terrible shock had become a challenge of survival as I got my head around the nightmare.
I waited until I felt in control of myself before telling my daughter. She was only 10 years old so I didn’t want to go into fine details but at the same time I didn’t want to lie to her by answering the question I dreaded “Are you going to die?”. Instead I white washed it a little.
“I don’t believe I will die from this. The doctor is going to take the lump away so it can’t grow any more. And guess what? We’re going to Luna Park this weekend!”. A smile quickly replaced her tears.
My journey was an experience to say the least and not always easy, but as the years rolled on after surgery I did get my life back. As for my daughter? Well, I was never going to win that one so easily.
“Mum!” she said, “I’ve been on Google and high grade breast cancers CAN kill you. You lied to me!”
Image credit: serezniy/123RF Stock Photo