Saturday, February 21, 2009

Here Be Dragons

It is such a long time since I've written anything here, as life has been rather hectic and this has slipped down the list of priorities. Events of the last couple of weeks have, however, prompted me to want to start writing again.

So, how to start? How to explain, break the news? You would have thought that after a week or so of verbalising this, of having to tell friends and loved ones in a way that protects them from the shock, that I would have a practiced set of phrases that work equally well for imparting the news to complete strangers. I suppose I need the words to be right for me. Each time I say this thing, I have to face the reality of it. And it still really does feel fairly surreal.

Sometimes I've had to broach the subject deliberately, such as when I've told X or my children (and I'd have done anything to avoid them having to receive that hurt), and sometimes it's been totally unplanned when I've been asked that innocent and everyday question "how are you?"

My favourite (and I use that word very loosely: there's nothing pleasurable about doing this) tack is to start off by saying that I had a hospital appointment the other Monday. This provides a gentle lead-in. Lots of people have hospital appointments. Sometimes for trivial, sometimes for non-trivial reasons. Sometimes for wonderful reasons. However I'm at an age and relationship status where the likelihood of a pregnancy is fairly unlikely, so we're already into grounds of a health problem without blurting it out. Yet.

The next problem is how to say it. There was a time, when I was a child I suppose, that the C-word was never mentioned. It was far too scary. Everyone hid from it, hid it from everyone around them. We're more open about it now. I suppose we have better treatments, therefore more hope. So, I can say "I have been diagnosed with breast cancer" to my family and my friends and acquaintances. I prefer that to "I have a breast tumour". Somehow the word tumour is more severe. It's certainly an uglier word. It's hard and eats into you. Cancer sounds gentler, sounds like something the medical profession can soothe away. Let's hope they can.

I know that as I impart the information, I'm spreading my shock to others, and each time they take a little of it away from me. It's not fair and it wasn't in my life plan (such as that is), but there it is. And I think that here is a good place to say some of the things I'm going to need to say over the coming months. Wish me luck.