Yesterday morning I dragged myself from my sick bed to go for a mammogram so my surgeon could start planning the Pruning of Pinchy. I was feeling rubbish with a capital Ar, since it was only four days since my fifth chemo; on Sunday and Monday while languishing in bed at my wonderful parents’ house the thought had actually passed my mind that one would only feel quite so crap if one was imminently about to shuffle off one’s mortal coil.
After enduring the Tit Squashing Machine, though, I soon perked up on seeing a set of pretty pictures featuring a complete absence of tumour. Yes siree, with one chemo left to go, as predicted by my consultant, the lump est disparu! [Cue Team Pinchy cheerleaders chanting ‘F&ck Caaancer, whoop whoop!’). It was rather affecting to see an X-ray of my dear old boob without that scary white mass in the middle this time. Such a bloody shame about the lurking pre-cancerous stuff meaning the surgery still needs to be extensive, but ain’t that amazing? This drug combo I’m on is seriously doing the business.
And I know I’m not the only one: yesterday afternoon I met another young (for breast cancer, anyway) mum who was on the same pertuzumab trial as me, had her chemo and surgery last year, and had a similarly dramatic result. The cancer had gone to her lymph too, and she had the same surgeon and said it was all fine with no problems. She’s just on the Herceptin every three weeks now and looks fab. She was the first person I’ve met around my age in sort of the same situation and it was hugely reassuring to speak to her.
I met her at the Look Good Feel Better workshop at the Royal Surrey’s Fountain Centre yesterday afternoon. This is a genius idea by the cosmetics industry: a load of women with cancer bowl up looking a bit grey and depressed with varying degrees of hair loss, and sashay out after two hours of attention by a crack squad of beauticians looking frankly much better than the girls on Take Me Out, with slap measurable in centimetres and big smiles. And a fabulous goody bag of make-up and toiletries: I wouldn’t exactly forage in the fields around Chernobyl in the hope I’d become eligible, but it’s nice to know that some silver linings come with a Chanel logo.
So today I am feeling almost back to normal. I’ve bounced back quickly again, I think partly due to the holistic support I’m getting from loads of acupuncture and absolutely foul tasting Chinese herbs pressed on me by my fabulous Chinese professor, Erwen. She’s very skilled, kind and funny and seems to actually care about my whole body getting through the chemo, being ready for surgery and sailing through radiotherapy.
And thence to the southern coast of Espana, where at the end of June the Pinchy family will be joining our Friends from Essex on a week at La Manga in a big villa with a private pool on the edge of a golf course with a spa and kids club near a beach (see how many boxes we ticked there?). It’s a bit of a L’Oreal holiday (“we’re worth it”) because we’ve all had a rather shite 18 months and need to spoil ourselves.
It might even be fun doing a slightly different sort of holiday clothes shopping, including a swimming costume with a pocket for a prosthesis (or ‘shell’ as the breast care nurses coyly put it) so my new small bionic boob doesn’t embarrass its more comely neighbour before the surgery to even up the landscape of my torso. I will report back on the retail opportunities of temporarily looking like I simultaneously have a melon and a peach nestled in my top, though I can reassure you I won’t be posting any shots of me modelling my Special Swimsuit. [Cue further action from cheerleaders etc etc…]