It's interesting to watch in retrospect how my 'the end of the world' changed as time went on.
At the start 'the end of the world' was literally, the end of my world. A few Saturday nights ago I believed I had advanced breast cancer and that I would die. I would fail at what my mum always says is the Mother's most important job - to stay alive. I would leave three motherless girls just as the big wide world was opening up to them, and my farmer boy, the love of my life. There were no words, just gut wrenching pain.
As the next few days passed my 'the end of the world' goal posts shifted as I read and heard more cancer survival stories. In my mind I started planning for a year, or years, of treatment. I would spend hours and days and weeks in hospital, I would be sick, I would be labelled, I would lose my hair, I would struggle and my family would struggle. I thought about it often, I listened to stories and watched others go through it and wondered how we would deal with it when and if our time had come.
As the week passed and we realised the lump was responding to the antibiotics and slowly shrinking, I allowed myself to hope for the best but kept myself in check. A few hours of normal life would go by and then I would remember that I might be standing there with a cancer inside me.
One evening I was in the shower washing myself when I ran my fingers across my breast and felt the lump and for a split second I panicked. I had forgotten everything and all those initial terrors pulsed through me. It was a strange relief to remember a second later that I had been there already and didn't have to go through it all from the beginning again.
Yesterday morning I woke up to the most brilliant sunshiny morning. The skies were clear blue, the girls were happy and chirpy on their ways to school and I felt strangely optimistic before what was going to be a long day of hospital sitting and testing.
On the drive to Ballarat I realised that in my heart I didn't believe I had cancer. I believed that by the end of the day I would be clear to go home and live the rest of my life. But then as we drove closer to the hospital it occurred to me that the goal posts had shifted yet again. They weren't really 'the end of the world' goal posts any more, but they were giving me a stomach ache and making me have no appetite and run to the toilet often.
I was no longer afraid of dying, now I was afraid of big needles being plunged into my breast to remove bits of the lump to analyse. Or I was afraid of being hooked up to another drip in my hand and being put under anesthetic and cut so the surgeon could remove the lump all together. I was worried about being admitted to the surgical ward, about being stuck in bed, about not being home when my girls got home from school, about not baking them muffins for their lunchboxes and about the stress on my beautiful boy. Or, I realised, I was worried about the results being inconclusive. About having to go home and continue on with this fear constantly at the back of all of our minds.
As I was sitting there waiting to be mammogramed and ultrasounded and poked and prodded I couldn't read or knit or focus on the facebook convo I was trying to have with my sister. I was completely and utterly aware that things were looking good and I knew that whatever the results were that we would deal with them, but I still felt nauseous.
First I saw the surgeon who was pleased with my progress.
Then I had a mammogram.
Then I had another mammogram to be certain they had covered every single angle.
Then I had an ultrasound.
Then the doctor came in and did the ultra sound himself to be certain they had covered every single angle.
Then I was told the words that I had been too scared to hope for, but was hoping for none-the-less, I was clear. I don't have cancer!! The lump was due to a mastitis and will gradually disappear over time.
My first thought was disbelief, then guilt, then happiness and then I raced to wipe that gooey stuff off my boobs and get my clothes on and find my farmer boy who had been moving the car. He cried.
I don't know why I am allowed to walk away from this so neatly and easily but I can promise you that I am not taking it lightly. Life can be upended in a second on a Saturday evening and I feel beyond lucky to be standing here, in the middle of my world with the luxury of hindsight and foresight. I feel like this is my 'get out of jail free' card. I feel like this experience is a responsibility.
And I feel for every single person out there who has had to deal with their own personal 'end of the world' scenario.
Big love to you all.
Now go and check your boobs.