8th May

It is about ten days since I had my operation. The ‘Thing’ has gone from my body, along with a modest amount of surrounding tissue and a few lymph nodes. The relief I feel is tangible, raw, real.

Having a disease like cancer can make one something of an armchair medic. Prior to my diagnosis, I had no idea what the lymphatic system is or does. Curious to know more about it, I did some pre-op reading. My newly acquired smattering of knowledge is enough to know that being a few nodes short of a full set shouldn’t cause me too many problems in the future.

As part of the procedure, a blue dye was put into my system to help locate the lymph nodes. As the dye makes it way around and out of one’s body, it can affect one’s skin in a rather interesting way. My consultant warned me, in her warm Glaswegian accent, “This may leave you looking somewhat Smurf-like!”

When I looked in the mirror shortly after waking from the anaesthetic, I found myself still disappointingly flesh-coloured. I had been looking forward to taking on a blue hue for a while. (However I can let you in on a secret: the dye does reveal itself as it exits the body in the form of bright blue wee!)

Upon leaving hospital, I was given this beautiful heart-shaped cushion, as is every woman undergoing breast cancer surgery there. The cushions provide both physical – and surprisingly comforting emotional – support as one recovers. The ability of a stuffed cotton heart to help one find a comfortable sleeping position, when battling with post-operative pain and stiffness, cannot be underestimated. You can find out more about these special little gifts on the group’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/westsuffolkcancersupportgroup

As I rest and heal, it would be easy to think that my troubles are over, and all I need to do is recover from the surgery. My appointment in a few days’ time, to get the results of tests on my tumour and lymph nodes, tells me otherwise.

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