Breast cancer blog: Just another day? Yeah, right

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 May, 2013, 6:42pm
UPDATED : Friday, 24 May, 2013, 12:49pm

Day three since returning home from the hospital where I underwent a lumpectomy, and nearly two weeks now since receiving the breast cancer diagnosis - and I’m getting antsy.

The procedure was straightforward: the first incision of about two inches removed the tumour - a little over 3cm in diameter - and surrounding tissue. Then a second, smaller incision removed three lymph nodes to test for cancer. A lumpectomy is considered intermediate surgery, and meant I spent four nights in hospital.

I’ve been ordered to rest and recover, but the old me – the one so accustomed to the rat race - is ready to bounce back and restart the engine. I’ve emailed work to let them know I am back from the hospital and would like to get back ASAP. “You need the rest and recovery,” a colleague recommended. They are right. What am I thinking?

I’ve just received a serious diagnosis, but I go from wanting to slip back into the old me in the same way we gravitate towards those comfortable but tattered sneakers, to telling myself to let go and start a new chapter.

Remember those resolutions I made in the hospital? I am going to do less, talk slower, walk slower, and enjoy life and loved ones more. In reality, it’s incredibly hard turning around a 747 in flight, and I’ve always been bad at New Year’s resolutions. It’s hard to shed the old me.

To be sure, I’ve spent the morning e-mailing friends, writing, brainstorming new projects, and even getting back on the treadmill and ramping up the incline from 2.0 to 2.8 (I’m even a bit embarrassed and impatient at myself). The stack of magazines and movies that I said I would savour mostly sit on the sidelines.

Change is all about baby steps, stride by stride.

There was lunch with the aunt and the grandmother (pictured above). Sit-down lunches and chit-chat is somewhat new to me. I’ve been known to wolf down lunch at my desk. As recently as three weeks ago I would rush through sit-down lunches with family, but now this felt good. Being rushed, as I’ve discovered, serves little purpose.

By the time we emerged from lunch the rain storm had passed, and the aunt dropped me off at the hair salon, an old fashioned shop run by baby boomers. The stylists and manicurist of another vintage were deep in their conversations and drinking tea from thermoses. They looked up, surprised to see a young woman coming midday/weekday for a hair wash.

I badly wanted to tell them that this was like being in heaven, I could, finally, relish a good hair wash after a week in the hospital. This was a taste of freedom, and I savoured it slowly.

Useful links

The Mayo Clinic - all you need to know about breast examinations

Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation