It was 4 years ago today that my cancer journey became a reality. It was 4 years ago that my left breast was removed. I don't normally remember dates that well, but it is the anniversary of my mother's birth and today she would have been 90 years old.
I wasn't really affected by the loss of my breast. After all I am not married or in a relationship, and as my mother had breast cancer when she was about 53 and had a breast removed so I knew what I would look like, it wasn't a shock. I did take a photo of my breast the morning that I went into the Princess Anne Hospital in Southampton, and for some reason I have kept it. It took a while to get used to it not being there - trying to wash it in the shower to find a flat chest on that side, and I sometimes feel as though there is an itch near where the nipple used to be. I guess it is a bit like having a limb amputated, you still get ghost sensations where it used to be.
I was supposed to be fine after the surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy. I was told a 90% chance of being alive in 10 years. If they had listened to the answers I gave to their questions they would have realised that my diagnosis was not Stage 2, but was Stage 4 all along. I suppose if they had realised that they probably would not have done the mastectomy at all, because when you are Stage 4 you are really not considered to be worth the effort or expense. I can live with the idea that I am not worth a great deal of expense, but I can't live with the feeling that I am not worth the effort. The effort I want is information and open mindedness on the side of the medical profession. I want to be able to access information and then make up my own mind. I am reading about Vitamin C at the moment, and one of the claims against it is that it shortened the life of Linus Pauling the double Nobel Prize winner who advocated its use. He died at the age of 94 for heavens sake. Freedom of Information does not include the medical profession. They seem to want to control and dictate the treatment options of their patients. After all I am not a laboratory mouse.