Today it is six weeks since my mastectomy (“mastectomy”: such an ugly word that I find myself hesitating to use it). Six weeks feels like a significant landmark: I am now supposed to be recovered from surgery. The “take it easy” injunction no longer applies.The ban on vacuuming and ironing is lifted (don’t tell the daughters). And I can crash the car now and be 100% sure that the insurers would stump up. Don’t worry, I was complying with their advice and that of the surgeon exactly when I got behind the wheel 2 weeks ago; but I just suspect that, being an insurance company, they might have wriggled a bit if I had tried to make a claim then.
So, at six weeks, how am I doing? Time for a bit of self-congratulation, I think. I am fit and well. I am moving on to my advanced physiotherapy exercises (they are still boring, though). Some days my scar site is more uncomfortable than others, but mostly it’s OK. And I’m being very good. I am walking briskly for about 40 minutes six days out of seven. I am eating really healthily – low red meat, low dairy, low sugar, lots of fruit and veg. My chocolate intake is limited to occasional squares of very dark chocolate (the Co-op’s Fair Trade with Cranberries is the best). And B and I are trying the 5:2 diet – together, for moral support. So on 2 days in a week I keep my calorie intake down to about 500. This is not too bad – it means two pieces of fruit for breakfast, a salad with a sardine for lunch, and some fat-free but quite chunky soup for tea. If this attempt at weight control seems a bit early or possibly unnecessary, may I suggest that I have caught the habit of early and possibly unnecessary action off the medics.
At six weeks, I have gone back into a school for the first time since early July, interviewing children for the research project I am helping on, and have had a short meeting at the uni about a second research project. In the last few days I have clerked a Quaker business meeting, and had a meeting with our accountant. So not a hectic schedule exactly, but pleasantly busy.
At six weeks,I have just started the hormone therapy, and have taken two doses of Anastrozole (= Arimidex) with no discernible effect so far. 2 doses down and only 1,818 to go –. Next week I have an appointment for the first Zoladex injection. Could be a bit more of a challenge.
At six weeks, those are the facts. Mostly I’m cheerful. Those not in the know do not seem to detect any change. But I was reliving the run-up to the mastectomy today, and I just don’t know how I got through that. And I was remembering how, after the surgery, I dared to look at my chest, and first of all felt relieved because the dressing was neat and it all looked clean and tidy (the bruising came later). But it was flat, very flat. Still now, when I put my hand up to my front, I expect to find a right breast in the space where it isn’t.
At six weeks, my breast shows no signs of growing back. It’s gone.