Pre-Surgery Panic & Prepping
WORDS: Corrine Barraclough PHOTOGRAPHY Corrine Barraclough
CB’s BC Journal
My surgery is this week. I have three more sleeps in my own bed before I go in for what I keep calling my ‘amputation’. That’s what it feels like. I’m not going to lie. I can try to stay positive, but I’m not going to hide truths from you or there’s no point in me writing this blog through my breast cancer journey.
At this point, I would rather do all that chemo again than have this surgery. A double mastectomy with the beginnings of reconstruction is a big deal. It feels extreme, confronting, terrifying and surreal.
I’m trying really hard to live by my AA slogans; one day at a time, keep it simple, first things first and easy does it. Honestly? It’s not easy right now!
I’ve had a shocker of a week. My little old rescue dog, Baylee, wasn’t well, spent three days in animal hospital and I had the conversation with the vet that all dog mum’s dread. For now, he seems to be pulling through and I can only put that down to the power of prayer.
I know he’s not going to live forever; at 15 and a half he is definitely on the wind down, but please God, let him stay by my side for the next few weeks at least.
When I haven’t been fretting about losing my dog, I’ve been stressing about surgery.
I had an appointment for my fifth COVID shot (because I’m immunocompromised) plus flu shot and saw a young doctor who isn’t my usual GP. He said they don’t like doing both shots at the same time, I explained I have major surgery coming up and he asked what I was having done. “Double mastectomy with reconstruction,” I said.
“Oh wow, that’s a big deal,” he replied.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. He’s right, of course but hearing it felt harsh.
As we turned into the week of my surgery, I’ve slipped into my happy mode, aka organisation. There’s been sparks flying off my fingertips as I attempt to finish up work. There’s been tears falling out of my wallet as I shop ahead for future me who won’t be able to drive for 6 to 8 weeks after surgery. There’s been multiple “ohms” coming out of my mouth as I stocked up on yoga classes ahead of struggling to move my body. You get the picture!
Today, I find myself packing snack packs for my stay in hospital. This level of self-care did not occur when I was drinking, I can tell you that for free! I’ve written a plan for my dog’s ashes if that happens while I’m in hospital, filed scripts ahead of time at the chemist, and made lists.
Being organised might not help me during surgery, but it’s a crucial coping mechanism I use when I feel I’m not in control. Seeing everything in black and white stops overthinking at 3am, gets it all out of my head and into manageable form.
Living sober for the last seven years has given me all kinds of tools in my toolkit to cope with life on life’s terms – and I’m immensely thankful for that.
My GP today said she hasn’t lost any sleep over me. She rattled off all the things I’ve been through; including a tumour in my uterus, alcohol addiction and now this. “I don’t worry about you because you have a resilience that very few people have,” she said. That’s that then, I must keep my sh*t together!
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.