Today I am admitted into the hospital. In the afternoon, I have another medical appointment. My right breast is injected with a blue fluid that will enable the surgeon to identify the sentinel gland during surgery tomorrow. As a result, the area around my nipple may be blue for months to come. The armpit has many glands. The sentinel gland is a sort of gate keeper. If he’s infected with tumor cells then all glands are removed. In that case, tumor cells may have spread into my body. Then the treatment that follows will include chemotherapy. It doesn’t cross my mind that this will be the case, it is standard procedure.
In the waiting area I meet another four women who are there for the same purpose, they also have their surgery tomorrow. One cries a lot, because she knows her breast will be removed. She doesn’t know how her husband will react, and fears it may harm their relationship. I know it wouldn’t affect Aidan. He loves me for who I am, which is so much more than two breasts. A mastectomy, the medical term, probably would bother me more than it would bother him. Another woman’s husband decided to stay in their house in Spain. She is going through this misery alone, one that deeply affects a woman in her being, and he is enjoying Spain. Again, I am happy to be in a different type of relationship.
Aidan is waiting for me outside, and after the examination, we walk up to what will be “my room” for the coming days. Due to COVID though, he is not allowed to even enter the hallway. The patients are too fragile. It is a first taste of what breast cancer can do to you. We give each other a big hug at the entrance. When I see him again, I will be tumor free. A nurse brings me to my room. I share it with a lady who is about twenty years older. She could be my mom. We get on well and have calm and friendly conversations. She had breast cancer seventeen years ago, and relapsed last year. This is not how I see breast cancer, in my view it’s an in-and-out of the hospital. Thanks a million, never see you guys again. Not in some cases apparently. She started EC chemotherapy two months ago, four sessions. It was massively tough on her. After the third session, she had a blood infection that got out of control and has spent the last three weeks in hospital. She is on the mend now, but too weak to even walk in the hallway. The doctors will drop the fourth EC because her body can’t handle any more. In September she will start twelve sessions of taxol. Hopefully the tumor will be sufficiently reduced by the end of the second series of chemo sessions, and then she will have surgery.
It is incredibly hot in the room. She is wearing a head scarf because she is bald as a result of the EC.
“ I will keep it on so not to scare you” she says.
“ It doesn’t bother me at all if you take it off. I’m sure you are beautiful as you are. And it’s hot” I reply.
Still she prefers to keep it on. As the evening comes, we watch some tv, each on our screen, mindful to keep the sound low. And then it is time to sleep. The nurse offers me a sleeping pill. I never take sleeping pills, and now is not the time to start taking them. I thank the nurse but don’t accept her offer. Tomorrow, I will get this misery resolved. Dusk settles, the hot night drags on, and I drift in and out of sleep.