Saturday 1 February 2014

"Tatt's all folks!"

Well, 2014 has already been full of surprises.

Two years on: CANCER HAS F*CKED OFF!
25 January 2014
Two years ago - 25 January 2012 - I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma. I wish I could say the time's flown by (it hasn't!) but I certainly couldn't have managed without the on-going support of my lovely friends.

Fortunately, I'm now at the end of the process. My hospital-based treatment is finished and I have an Open Access follow-up appointment on 13 February. These won't be regular appointments but I have been assigned a Macmillan One-to-One Support Worker who has been in touch and who I can contact, should I need her.

I had also been given a date for my nipple tattoo, Monday 10 March, the final stage in a very protracted reconstruction process. However, not one to miss out on the opportunity to party, I decided that it would be nice to celebrate the two year milestone with some of my oldest friends.

Shortly after I was diagnosed in 2012, I travelled home to the Midlands to see them. We had a great (and very snowy) night and I know they have followed my progress keenly. So how better to mark the completion of my surgery and one year in remission than with beer, kebabs and the raucous ex-members of Lichfield Youth Theatre?

Imagine my additional delight then, to receive a call from the Royal Marsden the day before my trip to tell me that they had a cancellation on Monday 27 January and did I want to come in for my tattoo six weeks earlier? Er, yes please! 

I was beyond happy at this news but also quite emotional. I'd waited such a long time for my reconstruction to be complete that the thought of it all finally being over, almost exactly two years after it began, left me quite weepy. After all, I had cancer for eight months but the reconstruction has taken another sixteen! It's been an exhausting process.

But it is now done. :-)

Except, there is an addendum to this story. Obviously, there was another person who travelled much of this journey with me ... Mr P. Even though we are no longer together, I hadn't appreciated just how much he needed closure from the experience too. Only he really saw what I went through and the impact that it had (for both of us) and that is something that we will always share.

He's a good man and a very caring man, and that's why he wanted to come with me on Monday for that final procedure ... Ultimately I said no - as I didn't think it was appropriate - but to come out of the Tube station and to see him waiting for me, to walk me to the hospital, was the sweetest and most lovely surprise!  And while he didn't join me on the appointment, we did go out later for dinner to celebrate.

So that's that. Cancer has f*cked off  and I couldn't be more delighted. The experience has changed me in so many ways but I also hope it has enriched me. I'm certainly far more pragmatic than I used to be because I've learned that some things just DON'T matter. Focus on the important stuff and count your blessings every day.

I also couldn't have done it without the support of my friends and loved ones. You have been awesome! I really am so very, very lucky. I know lots of people don't have that support and I am truly blessed.

And lastly, this blog. I've found capturing my thoughts and feelings tremendously cathartic. I can look back over the last two years - the good, the bad, the funny - and really feel proud of how far I've come.

I hope you've all found it useful too? Your comments and emails have really meant a lot to me.

I do still hope to post from time to time as I move forward on this cancer-free path and I will still do my bit to support and raise money for the various cancer charities. I'm signed up for the Moonwalk in May and I'm sure I may yet get more of you to join me ... ;-)

But for now, thank you for reading, and thank you all so much for your support.

All my love
Kate x