Next Step… Surgery (ohh f*******k)
WORDS: Corrine Barraclough PHOTOGRAPHY Corrine Barraclough
CB’s BC Journal
I want to write this week’s blog in two halves. The first, I’m writing before I go to Robina Hospital for the final consultation with my surgeon before surgery. The second half, I’ll write after my appointment.
I’m hoping it might be a peek inside just how tough I’m finding this section of the breast cancer journey.
With chemo, it was all there in black and white. I had Part One followed by Part Two, numbered weeks to check off and a countdown to the finish line was clear.
Now that’s finished, I do feel incredible relief to have ticked that off. But, the fear around this next part is absolutely massive.
I haven’t coped fantastically this week. There’s been a lot of tears and I’ve been very emotionally wobbly.
There is nothing about this next part that I can control. I know I need to have a double mastectomy, and all of my lymph nodes removed on my right side, and I know that I want reconstruction.
All of that is literally in someone else’s hands.
I guess in today’s consultation, we talk about timing, and the actual logistics of what they will remove, what gets sent to the lab, what the possible results can mean in terms of further treatment, and recovery time from the actual op.
My brain can’t wrap itself around losing my boobs, if I’m honest. I have a phone filled with screen shots of boobs so I can show my surgeon what I want to look like, which will be balanced with what is surgically possible.
So, this morning, I feel physically sick and filled with fear.
My only hope is that the surgeon says something today that manages to put my racing mind at ease…
After the consultation:
Just home after several hours at Robina. Met with one doctor, then my surgeon Dr Gault, then a Registered Nurse, then a breast care nurse. It’s information overload again.
My surgery will be on 8thSeptember. I’ll be in hospital for 5-7 days afterwards, before coming home and moving to out patient appointments for check-ups, dressing changes and all that jazz.
I’ll be coming home with drains and be very restricted in what I can do for 6-8 weeks (mostly that means no lifting, driving, arms up etc).
I showed Dr Gault one of the boob photos I’ve saved in my phone and said, “Can you make me look like this?”
He laughed and replied, “How old is she?”
The woman was probably in her twenties. I laughed. I guess that’s a no?
Gault is very big on managing expectations. He spoke at length about how his job is to create a cleavage in clothes. He also talked about boobs being sisters not twins, which made me chuckle too, but it’s true, boobs are never identical.
I think it’s best not to overthink this. I need not to let my mind run wild and panic about what could go wrong, how lopsided or horrifically scarred I could end up being.
Like my breast cancer journey thus far, I need to take this next part one step at a time too.
Biopsy samples will take two weeks to come back with results after surgery, which feels like a long wait.
Then there’s a question mark over whether I’ll need to have radiotherapy; it sounds likely because of the size of my largest tumour (5cm).
I can’t even think about that yet.
I’m not going to jump ahead.
For now, I have several weeks to enjoy Gold Coast life, walk my little doggie, watch some sunrises, catch up with friends who I haven’t seen while in my chemo-covid-iso bubble… and eat cake!
Corrine was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer, which has spread to her lymph nodes. Her medical oncologists are pursuing a “cure”, which will begin with a six-month course of chemotherapy at Gold Coast University Hospital, followed by surgery at Robina Hospital and then likely further treatment. Corrine will be writing a weekly blog journaling her personal journey for Ocean Road Magazinethroughout her breast cancer.