Tests conducted Monday 29th August in Mater Radiology, Bundaberg. Examining doctor: ‘You have cancer, you will need surgery’. My inner core shudders. I wander dazed into the tea room, take a free cup of tea and ring my husband to collect me, not wanting to give him the news on the phone, my sister to share my shock. Mike arrives in the Rose Tearoom – I sob out the news, shoulders shaking.
Driving home in the car I realise how little I know about what is in store. I ring the Breast Screen Clinic and ask to talk to someone. Margie the nurse talks me through the whole journey, times, possible treatments, support available.
Biopsy returned Wednesday 31st. I collect the letter from Holthouse’s surgery, take it outside to a park bench and open it to read the worst. I laugh out loud when I can barely decipher a word of it! My brother rings:’You are an English master work this out’. We both laugh. Polysyllabic medical terms do tell me that one aspirational biopsy yielded only blood and the other had insufficient information but irregular nuclei in cells recommended further testing. Is it? Isn’t it? I hang out in a kind of limbo-how much of my life must I cancel? And when?
Thursday 1st September visit to General Surgeon Dr Ang. She says they feel like cancer, they look like cancer. She requests a cone biopsy and I can get into radiology the same day. A fairly intrusive test but I follow the cone’s entry to touch the mass, the shot from the retracting needle to collect the tissue- so skillful. Despite the discomfort I insist on examining the apparatus with the nurse afterwards. What? Curiosity emerging and a learning trajectory opening up in the midst of this mayhem? The woman must be crazy!
I buy myself a bunch of yellow lilies.
Monday 6th September I ring the surgery to check if the new results have come in. The receptionist says ‘yes’ but she cannot read them to me. I insist on knowing what is in them. Soon after Dr Ang herself rings and tells me that both lumps are aggressive cancer. Now I really know.
Wednesday 7th September I write the resignation letter to Creative Regions. I say farewell to the best working team I have ever known. That’s okay they are strong and ready to fly. They love me and I believe that they will not be lost to my future. I clean out the study. 4 boxes of files to go to the office, a recycle bin full of my life’s work goes ta ta. I somehow know it will never be the same again. This cancer is drawing a line under the life I have known and hopefully opening up a new page on another life beyond the journey through it.
I stay up most nights do tax, finish reports, tie up loose ends, tick jobs off lists. Busyness is my way of coping. I buy new bed linen and set up the room downstairs for myself. I have my hair cropped close to my head, buy red and purple hair dye. ‘Delwynne, which colour would you like to put through my gray hair?’ ‘Both’ she says. As I trust her artistic instincts I surrender to her hand. Thinking to have people walk away from me in the street with this little revolt against convention I am amazed that people come up to me and say: ‘ Love your hair!’ The young actors in the Childer’s play I am working with think it’s great. My siblings say: ‘But that’s just you’.
I put a statement up on Facebook – I am an irregular friend. I have no expectation of responses. But there is a flood of magnificent support- I am so buoyed by the voices of friends of recent times and years ago, still loyal and tuned into me. I loved reading them and could feel the energy of so many hugs across the ether. Digits send flowers and I fill 2 vases, Jess gives be gladies and I fill another one. Surrounded by flowers. Their vitality reassuring.
Nique Murch sends me meditation workbook and CD. I know this is the direction of the journey: inward. Kay and Rochelle the other musketeers join with her in sending a magic wax lantern to light my way.