“…sorry, you have breast cancer”. The day my head went zim zum

In my previous blog, Finding C50.9 – Tests, tests and more tests, I detail the various tests I had undergone in order to provide doctors with specimens to make a conclusive diagnosis.  That Thursday, 16 February, ended like any normal working day.  In fact, on that day, after all my tests, I reported to office and went along doing stuff as usual with colleagues oblivious to the morning’s drama.  I had a bandage strapped across my nipple and armpit area, and this provided me enough comfort to go about life.

Days passed and the usual, hectic office life took over.  I was expecting a call from the surgeon to discuss results any day.  I was not bothered in the least, even cracking an odd joke with Ronwyn about the possible results.

On Tuesday, 21 February I receive a call from a number which had become familiar in the last while – the surgeon’s rooms.  Margaret, his right-hand lady, then confirms that doctor wants to see me to discuss my results.  Given that he is in theatre most of that day, I’m given an appointment to see him on Wednesday.  In my mind, I’m thinking this doctor is keen to make more money by seeing me for something he could just discuss telephonically – this is how nonchalant I was.  I however obliged and committed to the appointment at a time convenient to both Ronwyn and I – after work. 

My wife likes to hear things first hand so I resultsrespect that.  Also, I tend to not ask questions and she has the ability to ask all the right questions.  So, I prefer having her beside me.

I arrive slightly early for my appointment with the surgeon and he is able to see me almost immediately as I walk-in.  Ronwyn had not arrived at the rooms at this stage.

The surgeon sits me down.

His words I remember as if it was uttered yesterday. 

“I’ve received your test results of the biopsy and FNA.  I’m sorry, you have breast cancer.  It is confirmed…” 

At this moment, my head does cartwheels and I feel zim zum.  It felt like I’ve been knocked against the head with a pan.  For a moment, I hear nothing else but the doctor’s words.  I quickly bring myself back and continue listening to him explaining the way forward – further tests to be done, surgery and and and…

I’m left speechless at this news, but my entire being is at peace.  I find this peace so strange as I’d expected to become emotional. Let’s face it – a positive result crossed my mind and I’ve had to consider how I would respond to it.  But despite there being a 50% chance of a positive result, one hopes for the opposite.

The doctor continues talking to me but my mind wonders away ever so often. 

It’s as if life slowed down. 

I’m more observant. 



My state of peace at this stage grows into an optimism; a curiosity as to what possibilities this diagnosis could bring.  A quiet excitement starts to grow within me.  I have a knowing that this is a turning point for many things in life.  I have a knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is going to work together for my good.  And I can’t wait to see this pan out!

Now, I’ve mentioned earlier that I’m not the question asking type.  Ronwyn is.  And since she had not arrived, I have nothing to ask.  The doctor then beckons toward his reception area to have Margaret assist with scheduling additional tests.  I follow him to the reception and at this moment, Ronwyn walks into the reception area with a “I missed the bus” look on her face. 

The moment is quickly and silently awkward –  I have a straight face and the surgeon has a look of “are you not going to tell her?”  I’m a poor communicator for myself.  At this opportunity, I’d probably communicate the facts in the shortest possible way.  The surgeon realises the uneasiness and therefore offers to see Ronwyn privately to provide her with the feedback.  I’m happy he obliged as I was not going to break the news gently.  To me, at this instance, it is what it is and life goes on.  I have learnt over the years that how I accept and process information is different to how my wife does.  Or maybe it’s a woman thing in general.  Men tend to be doef daf; women not. 

Moments later both Ronwyn and the surgeon emerge from his rooms.  During this time Margaret and I had some or other chit chat. 

I’m too eager to have the additional tests done and given the time of day, we dash to the lab two floors under.  Apart from providing more blood samples, I’m seen by a radiologist for a sonar of my key organs.  This sonar could immediately tell whether there is any further cancer spread.

Night falls.

I’m on my bed.

Gazing into darkness.

Thinking about the journey I’m about to embark on.

Considering where this road would lead.

Hope leaps within me!

 As if it had become exited at the possibility of it becoming.



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