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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Diagnosis 4

Once again today I meet with my surgeon Dr Lambley to discuss the results of the MRI scan I had yesterday.

Tomorrow I am meant to start my chemotherapy but in this continually shifting vignette, the furniture has been moved around once again.

Dr Lambley tells me that the MRI has shown this cancer indeed requires a mastectomy of the left breast. The progress of the carcinoma is worrying enough for radiation also to be thrown into the mix.

That is not what I want to hear! Secretly, I had been hoping that with breast removal and chemo, I would not need radiation. It's the nuisance of it - the length of treatment, the never ending saga.

The reason for the MRI was so that Dr Lambley could work out whether a'simultaneous reconstruction' would have been possible at the time of mastectomy, meaning that radiation was not needed.

However, the placement and progress of this cancer means that this is not possible. The total area of the tumour is now around the 5cm mark, the size at which things are not so peachy.

Thanfully, Dr Lambley reports that the last lumpectomy showed a pretty unaffected chest muscle so far so at least this tumour has not spread any further than the breast.

However, chemo and radiation are recommended as part of what is called adjuvant therapy.

I guess somewhere in my brain, I am processing this latest punch in the face but I am strangely removed. I have surrendered myself to the process, at least for today.

I ask Dr Lambley whether I can have both breasts off as I believe being uneven is terribly uncomfortable.

He says he prefers to do that as the final step in my treatment because a double mastectomy takes much longer to heal, there's a greater risk of infection and it might mean my chemotherapy treatments are delayed. This is not an option.

My darling friend, Christine who has been through the whole kit and kiboodle of the cancer journey has schooled me on the benefits of a simultaneous nipple reconstruction.

Alas, this is not an option. I'm not entirely clear why not. It has something to do with blood flow and the fact that the nipple tends to wither away. Yuck.

So basically the scenario I am left with is this. One breast off - the sooner the better. Chemotherapy, radiation then reconstruction resulting in two breasts.

At once, I see my blissful plans of returning to refereeing in March next year disappearing in that long vapour trail of things I will be stopped from doing in the coming months. Looks like I'll have to be content being a linesman. :(

So what is left to do other than to laugh. I tell Dr Lambley that I hope he does a neat job as all the pictures I've seen of these operations look like they've been performed by Charles Manson.

"My grandfather used to call me 'Charlie'," Dr Lambley laughs.

"And make sure you lay off the alcohol the night before," I say. "I want a nice straight line."

There are diagrams drawn, and questions asked. Al wants to know if there is a chance that with chemo and mastectomy I might avoid the radiation.

"It's possible," says Dr Lambley. But I am already able to read his facial expressions: the subtle shift of a lip and a brow and I know he believes it is unlikely.

Cancer it seems, is an enemy not to be messed with and the strategy is not to take it out in half-hearted pot shots with a 9mm Browning. No. The strategy is to come at it with both guns barrelling. I am reminded again of Riley and her confrontation with the Aliens.

And so I am resigned. What can I say? Boo hoo? I am booked in for my mastectomy of the left breast for this coming Tuesday.

Instead, I focus on the positives.

I have another two weeks up my sleeve to kick up my heels - albeit one-breasted - before the demons of chemo are unleashed into my veins.

This means I can go to my friend, Mel's special restaurant opening on Friday.

It means I can enjoy Harry's 18th birthday party this Saturday and dance my booty off with 80 teenagers and embarrass my son with some solid party-porno moves.

I can go to lunch with my besties as planned on Monday.

It means I have another five days in which to enjoy the self that I have been.

I will use this time to reflect upon that self and to bid my good byes to the body that I have loved and nurtured.

I will enjoy the feeling of Nicky and Paris, droopy as they are, hanging from my chest. (We have been through a lot together, the three of us).

I will bask in the symmetry of the body God gave me.

And I will dream about the not too far off future where, salined but perhaps more streamlined, I'll come sprinting down the home strait, running like the wind.


  1. You're an absolute trooper Bron!
    I'll be with you every step of the way - albeit 1000km away!
    Enjoy your girls (and take a photo of them and stash it away - for your eyes only - in remembrance of them).
    Sending soooo much love and positive thoughts to you.
    C xox

  2. so sorry you have to have that drastic surgery.