Thursday 8th September I see the surgeon to plan the surgery. I will have both breasts removed and the lymph glands on the left. I ask is she a good seamstress. She lights up and tells me all her hobbies outside the hospital are sewing too- patchwork, appliqué, cross stitch. Her grandmother taught her to knit when she was a child, so did mine. I want to do more craft when I am well-‘We might meet again at the patchwork classes in Bundaberg on Fridays’ she says. I am somehow more confident in the operation – I see myself daintily scarred with cross stitch. Dr Ang has also trained in plastic surgery.
I find that my fear is more of imbalance that losing both breasts. I couldn’t cope with the aesthetic of being lopsided. A visit to the Breast Screen nurse brings out boxes of implants, prostheses, all manner of make believe breasts. They appeal to my clown for a performance but not for my life. Unless I am ugly beyond belief then I have no intention of making up for the loss in these ways. The idea of tattoos appeals but that may be a problem they tell me with future treatments. I found out that they are now transplanting pig nipples- that appeals both to my sense of humour (I am born in the year of the pig) and to my self image. I have always had inverted nipples like my gran – just imagine having a nipple that might win a wet T shirt competition!
I pack up most of my bras to take down to my sister and send some off to the op shop. I keep 4 to se pouches in for soft fill if I need a mask at any time.
Mike comes to the information session with the nurse with me. I am grateful. He is still in shock at his familiar world coming apart at the seams.
On the same day I saw the surgeon I went to the Mater Hospital admissions. This was another information download. I appreciated so much detail. While I have some idea of how much pain and suffering will be involved I am empowered with the knowledge of what will happen when and what to expect – the best and the worst. I feel ready now. Afraid of the actual surgery – of 4 hours on 16th. I will be a very happy woman if I wake up in the recovery room and my husband and son are with me rather than Michael and Gabriel.
Margie Brown Ash reminds me of my trickster and my Amazon. They are both out: red & purple haired and fighting back. She believes in me as an actor- one of my lives failed threads to my mind, so that makes me glad. Songs keep coming to my clown- ‘Thanks or the mammaries’. ‘Bye Bye Boobs’…. Delwynne is organizing a party for Wednesday night 14th. John is coming up from Melbourne that day to be with me through the worst of it.
I take time out to visit my family on the Sunshine Coast. Mum is coping well and gifts me with some funds that will help a lot with the upcoming expenses- she thoughtfully has Maureen find a soft bolster cushion for me to use travelling in the car! Maureen presents me with a basket of hand creams, face creams, a soft teddy and shawl. I never thought of those self care things! I had books and CDs ready – Loretta brings the lip balm that I know I will use and some henna dye for when I need a lift later on. I collect hugs and hugs. Annette Noontil in her book :’The Body is the Barometer of the Soul’ says breast cancer is about: ‘Not nurturing yourself. Doing for others before you’. Nephew Damien has the best hugs.
The most amazing thing was that Barbara Bell, my long time partner in Feldenkrais over the years (we developed the Pelvic Power series and trained over 2,000 women back in the 90s), made the pilgrimage from Brisbane with her daughter Nicola (my goddaughter) and her boyfriend and informed me that her bags were packed and she would come up and care for me when I came out of hospital. I wept then for the first time for ages revealing how anxious I was about that time. Friends in Woodgate are concerned and will support us too. I want Mike to have his space and not feel trapped by my neediness over the next few weeks. It will be my job to learn patience.