‘I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you.’ Psalm 88
‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.’ John 14:27
I know it is not everyone’s pint of beer, but I love the bible. I particularly love the poetry of Psalms. There are many things I take issue with, many things I struggle with and many things that do not make sense to me. But I do find myself repeatedly back in Psalms. Today, my equilibrium is more restored than it has been for sometime. And in cancer terms that means for a few hours rather than days or weeks. Time has taken on a whole new dimension.
I think my new peace is down to several things. Mainly, I have the answers to my pathology report that I was looking for. I believe God has played a large part. Those of you so inclined might like to look up Psalm 88. It is a cheery little number. But I find it so encouraging that I can be that broken and still shout at God about it. My cancer induced Tourette’s is fine. God can cope.
So back to that lil ol’ report. First of all I rang my local hospital to speak to my bosom friend (or breast care nurse). She was unable to help and initially said ‘This is why we don’t like patients having their pathology reports. It only upsets them.’ More than a little patronising I thought. I had legitimate concerns and a right to discuss them with someone knowledgeable. I only asked for the report in the first place because the cancer charities the hospital had recommended suggested I do so. Things did improve and she agreed to speak with someone who did understand the report and get back to me. Which she did. Their advice? ‘The bracketed TNM score is irrelevant and nothing to worry about’. Comforting on the one hand, but on the other, why was it there at all?
While waiting for all this to happen, I contacted Breast Cancer Care to speak to one of their specialist nurses. I filled in the form, expecting to hear in a few days. Two hours later I received a phone call. A calm, professional woman took me through my report in painstaking detail. She pulled no punches but delivered all with empathy, reassuring where appropriate. Quite simply, she was brilliant. Turns out the system for classifying the grade of tumour uses the same acronym as the staging system which I was more familiar with and detailed before. Only this time T= Tubule formation, N= Nuclear grade, and M= Mitotic rate. She then sent me a link to an incredibly helpful fact sheet which I intend to give to my bosom friend next time I see her. Basically, the TNM score on the report was a breakdown of how the grade 3 had been decided upon. So helpful.
I realise this is not how everyone handles their cancer. I understand there are many who want to know as little as possible. But that is not how I function. I have to know as much as possible – bad or good – in order to stand any chance of keeping ahead of the game.
Having had nearly twenty four hours of not eating (seriously, this loss of appetite thing is new to me … weird), this news at least encouraged me to buy my favourite chocolate (Green & Blacks, milk chocolate with sea salt in case you were wondering!). I also pulled out the daily flogging mug to drink my new Serenity Tea in – surprisingly pleasant – so I think I’ve covered all bases there.