2015 began well, with frosty English mornings, and segued into a warm welcome home from Trixy, and those marvelous crystal clear days of a Canarian winter.
For a time, problems were forgotten, but little did I know that more were waiting in the wings, as I concentrated on finding what I had decided was to be a reasonably long term rental. My knee was mended, but Trixy’s traveling days were clearly over.
As I packed to leave the temporary apartment, I was also packing my bags for a new journey. I only had time to dump boxes in the new one before it was time to set off for a Florida road trip. Because of what happened next, I only ever managed to publish one post about that, but for me it was a huge one. Crossing something off your bucket list is a big thing, and there was lots of beach time too, as you can see above.
Life assumed a very pleasant pattern, wanderlust quenched for a while, some very happy memories of Florida, Trixy stabilized, happily pottering around the new apartment unpacking the stuff I hadn’t unpacked in the temporary one (reuniting with my books – yay!), some gentle walking to make sure the knee was up for more. Yes, life, I could say, was good, until the phone rang one day in early August.
“Linda, this is the hospital. We noticed something on the mammogram we did a couple of weeks ago, and we’d like you to come back for more tests.”
You could say it was the call I’d been dreading since my mom died from breast cancer 40 years before. Maybe that’s why I felt no panic, or maybe, you know, that’s just the way I am. I did sit for about an hour or so and decide what to do. This call was by no means conclusive, but chances were that what they had spotted was cancer. I decided that it was best to tell no-one until it was confirmed. What on earth was the point in worrying family and friends without cause? I went into my default mode when faced with a problem. This is a problem, so what am I going to do about it?
Logic said if it was cancer it was early stage, because I’d never missed a mammogram. Ironically, the previous year, I had stepped off the ferry from La Palma and gone straight to my mail box, where I’d found notification of my annual appointment that very day. I’d gone straight to the hospital from the post office. I cannot help but wonder at the mysterious intuition I had felt that had brought me back to Tenerife on that particular date…..
That summer was marked by hospital visits, pokings, a biopsy and finally confirmation that it was a small, cancerous tumor. This was the point at which I had to tell my sons of course, but there was no question that I was going to burden my 93 year old father with this information, since I’d seen him in May en route home from Florida, that didn’t seem like an enormous problem. My greatest fear was that he might become ill during my treatment……
Remember what I said in my last post? I hate fuss. I hate being ill. I hate to appear to solicit sympathy. Besides, there were folk far, far worse off than I. I followed a fellow travel blogger who had been diagnosed just weeks earlier, and her cancer was much more advanced than mine, yet she wrote about it with humour and style, making my story far less important. I was offered a one-off copy-writing job, something I hadn’t really done before. There was a lot to learn. It stretched my mind, and left me little time for angsting.
My sons were amazing in their support. Flowers and regular encouraging calls and messages came from Guy and Rachael, and Austin took compassionate leave from his job at sea. Thus he was able to be with me when I woke from the operation to remove the tumour in early September. This was all I needed. Within 48 hours I was stopping on my way home to shop in Decathalon for new bras….something I hadn’t given thought to! My boob was still there, but a tad on the sore side.
I was one of the lucky ones. It was confirmed to be early stage, and no chemo was necessary. Here is where I cannot stress enough, girls …..GET REGULAR CHECK UPS! DO THE SELF EXAMINATIONS! and, guys, that goes for you vis a vis prostate cancer!! If you are not persuaded by the horrible stories of people who haven’t, then be persuaded by how easy my op was, honestly, I’ve had dental work which was more painful.
Like ripples in a pond, I widened the circle of people I told, save my father. I’d even spoken to him from my hospital bed without giving him a clue …. thank the lord for mobile phones! I was still concerned, because although chemotherapy had been ruled out, radiotherapy was on the cards, and once started that had to be continuous for four or five weeks.
What happened next was another of those “someone is watching over me” events. A visit to the oncologist, and she mentions that there is a new test available to determine how aggressive the cancer was.
Would I like to have it done?
Of course I would, why would I not?
The test meant sending the tumour off abroad somewheres for testing, as it isn’t done on the island, but I still had a big enough window to do the radiotherapy. So off went my cancer on its travels.
I think I hate telephones, well, phone calls at least. What with all our electronic communication these days, it means that phone calls are reserved for the serious stuff.
So I jumped when my phone rang one morning in mid-November. When I recognised the voice, even before he said much, my heart sank. It was my father. We spoke every other day, and always in the evening. My father was a man of habit.
Calmly he explained that he wasn’t feeling “too well,” and he’d called an ambulance.