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First Swim

First Swim

This is our river, in which yesterday – after several days of lovely warm weather – we took our inaugural dip in the company of some of our neighbours. A yurt (which makes a good changing room) has been pitched for the summer conveniently near a good getting-in spot. The water was cool – this is after all North West England – but not as bad as I expected. I made it all the way in and swam around a bit, getting out quite quickly not because I was cold, but because I was uncertain of the depth. B. made it right across the river and back again. What a wonderful facility to have on your doorstep.

It was also my first swim since surgery. I have not bothered with a specially adapted swimming costume. We were only a small group, but I just went for it. I have no idea whether my neighbours noticed my lack of symmetry or not. I felt OK. In some ways this was a warm-up for many more swims to come this summer, some probably in the company of strangers and probably with more on show (or less, on the right side!).

The anniversaries have come around. I have had a cancer diagnosis for a year now, and its low-level effects rumble on. I got some eye-watering quotations when I tried to buy travel insurance, but finally was able to go with our regular insurer, who sensibly agreed to insure us against most contingencies, but not breast cancer. With the summer weather and summer parties, I also notice the constraints on my wardrobe, even though I’ve never been one for plunging necklines. And (this may be too much information) I have discovered that a prosthesis is damned uncomfortable when it’s hot: heavy and sticky. Think wearing a plastic bag full of dough.

Because it’s anniversary time, I have also had a call-back to see the consultant, although, with her holidays and mine, we can’t seem to make a date for a couple of months. This was much to the discomfort of the poor clinic booking secretary, who I think is trying to hit some targets. I could myself go for an appointment any time soon – but I need B. to go with me, to help me say what I want to say, and not to succumb to the pressure to have a mammogram. Which I will not be having. And if I am told it’s better to be safe than sorry, I plan to reply that my perception of risk has turned out to be different from that of the advocates of screening – or even monitoring, which is what they will say the mammogram is at this point. I would rather risk missing something really nasty (and finding that out a bit later, when having treatment would be a no-brainer, but the prognosis highly likely to be no worse), than risk the psychological torture of finding another small asymptomatic (and maybe harmless) lump, and having to decide whether to treat it or not. I went there last year, all unknowing at the start. I’m not going there again.

It’s a pity that for the next few years (if I stay with the programme), I will have to revisit the cancer thing in July and August. Why couldn’t it have been February?! I don’t think I’m an ostrich: but, in the interests of more happy river swims and weeks camping in France, as far as mammograms and their findings are concerned, I’ll settle for ignorance. As near to blissful as I can get.