Two years ago this afternoon, on Wednesday 5th November 2008 (5th November isn't the sort of date you forget!), I received the phone call that confirmed the diagnosis of breast cancer. I'd known for a week that they were pretty certain, and now the pathology results had confirmed it. I was not only strapped into the roller-coaster but it was moving and gathering speed rather alarmingly.
I flung myself into a flurry of information gathering and question listing, even going so far as to google the name of my consultant, just to check up on his credentials. I was reminded of this approach last week as I prepared for my final appointment with my genetic counsellor. An appointment that took place exactly two years after being told that they were as certain as they could be pre-biopsy that I had breast cancer. As usual I had my list of carefully prepared questions with space opposite each one to write in the responses and the discussions we had on the subject. It all went very well and I emerged feeling good and with a couple of decisions pretty much made.
It was the genetics issue that rather derailed my Grand Plan for Moving Forward of summer 2009. The fall out from the shock of the September discovery that I met the criteria for genetic testing (when all those around me were being told that they didn't) has meant that I have/will have spent the whole of 2010 waiting for tests or test results of one sort or another. I don't find this at all easy. In fact, I hate it when I feel that cancer is dominating my life, although I have hopes that next year the situation will improve and I do now feel that I am moving forwards again. So the date of last week's appointment seems somewhat auspicious - the start of the next chapter, perhaps?
Another important landmark for me has been my involvement with Breast Cancer Care's "Moving Forwards" initiative for providing resources to those just finishing their hospital-based treatment. It has given me the opportunity to think through what has happened, how I felt and how I coped, while hoping that some of my experience may be useful to others in a similar position. For me, moving forwards is involving reflecting on the whole experience so far, trying to integrate it into my life and taking from it any positive points that can help me or other people to reclaim our lives.
This time last year I was in the middle of my first Major Scare, with pain in my affected side when I breathed in. Imagination ran riot, of course, but it turned out to be just chostochondritis and wore off in a few weeks.
All in all, anniversary week this year has been positive - a good appointment, the thrill and enthusiasm of curling and the fun of the Moving Forwards photoshoot. It goes without saying that it wouldn't be a cancer event without there being some uncertainty, and I am (of course) waiting for more tests/scans and results. But when all is said and done I am pleased to be feeling that I am moving forwards again.
To all of my friends in a similar situation - here's to another year!