The drama's been going on since last year, tbh. She went for the alarm-bells mammogram in June 2013-ish. There was something there and they told her to come back after six months and check it up again, because it was too small for them to figure it out. She went back this January and they told her that while nothing had changed, they needed to send her to a specialist because they really couldn't tell from the external scans. The specialist told her to go for a biopsy, and then she and my dad dithered about it, because they had this notion that if they went for a biopsy they'd permanantly be labelled a cancer-risk, and that's bad for some reason. In the run up to my exams there was much panicking and dithering about the biopsy. The mammogram results told them that there was a 99% chance it was nothing, just benign calcification, but they wanted a biopsy just to make sure.
I convinced her to go for it, against my dad's wishes, because it's better to know than to not know, right?
Biopsy results came back today. They call it Stage 0 Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS). It's a "non-invasive cancer where abnormal cells have been found in the lining of the breast milk duct. In Stage 0 breast cancer, the atypical cells have not spread outside of the ducts or lobules into the surrounding breast tissue. Ductal Carcinoma In Situ is very early cancer that is highly treatable, but if it’s left untreated or undetected, it can spread into the surrounding breast tissue." So it's barely cancer, it's a super early stage of cancer. There's even a chance that it's not going to spread, but all treatment must be carried out just in case it does. Treatment either involves masectomy or partial removal of breast tissue + radiotherapy.
I woke up this morning to a call from my sister where she was crying so hard I couldn't understand what she was saying. When I finally figured it out I threw up twice. Between five in the morning and seven in the evening I have spent approximately ten hours crying. I'm exhausted. Beyond words. And my mum is in shock. And I don't know how to deal with it.
For those who are new to the blog, I'm in the UK finishing off my law degree. My mum's in Singapore. The thing is, everyone seems to be really positive. The doctors started with a "we have some good news and we have some bad news." The nurses all said that she's going to be fine, that it's very treatable and it's going to work out. My mum went home, had an hour to process, and went to work for four hours. When I tried to call her to actually speak to her, she was dealing with fifteen thousand fucking phonecalls from every fucking friend and relative and their godforsaken grandmas.. Every single one. Two problems with this: everyone wants to visit her today, to make sure she's okay, and she just doesn't have time, and isn't in the mood. Also, it means that the people CLOSEST to her, ie. me, my dad and my sister, are being thwarted at every turn because of another fucking phonecall. I have spoken to her a grand total of fifteen minutes and each time they've said there's another call and that they'll call me back in five minutes, I've waited for another three-to-four hours before calling them to find that they're still incredibly busy.
So I understand that it's her illness and her life but she makes me so fucking angry because she needs to LET GO. If she's crying on the phone and she's got a headache and nausea and anxiety because of the phone calls, she needs to fucking turn off the phone. She says it's because they're using all available phones to try and get in touch with other doctors both in Singapore and in India, for a second opinion. Like, okay, I get it, but what I want to know is, what the second opinion is going to do. The worst case scenario is that she has to go for the surgery and the radiotherapy. If a second opinion tells her that actually it's okay, they're not going to be able to rest easy anyway. And if the second opinion tells her that she needs a complete masectomy, it's only going to make her shit bricks. Like I get it, I understand that the second opinion is her security blanket, but it's a meaningless one, and she needs to prioritize.
Second, my dad and my sister are being complete fucking retards. I don't use that word lightly because I don't like it, but I can't think of anything else strong enough to describe how fucking stupid they're being. Mum said she wants to run away and not deal with any of this. Understandable, tbh. My dad said 'the time to run away was last year. if you hadn't gone for the mammogram, none of this would be happening'. Which is, to be frank, complete fucking nonsense. There's a difference between wanting the problem to be gone, and pretending there's no problem in the first place. Everyone wants the problem to be gone. If we'd pretended nothing was wrong in the first place, we'd have ended up in deeper shit. My sister is completely insensitive. She keeps bitching about how they should still come for my graduation (Yeah, I'm graduating from law school on the 1st of July 2014, yay me) and go for a trip around the UK to distract themselves. To me that sounds like complete nonsense, because throwing yourself into work to be distracted from minor stresses is a completely different kettle of fish from travelling to the UK to be distracted from the imminent onset of cancer and invasive surgeries. She doesn't get that. She's being really pushy about it and to my mum it just looks like she wants them out of the house. With the relationship between my parents and my sister the way it is, I don't blame her for thinking so. I officially absolved them of the responsibility of coming to my graduation. Her health and well being is more important. I'll cope. I don't want to, and I'll probably cry fucking buckets, but I'll cope.
My mum was feeling nauseas etc. but she didn't have any food in the house because she's knackered and she can't put the fucking phone down. My sister just sat in her room and didn't do anything. She hasn't started uni, she's not doing any work, it's just. She's a complete waste. Even if she didn't cook, she should at least have spent some time around my mum. Even though my mum was on the phone the whole time, she should have just sat there with a book or whatever and given her company. But she didn't, because she's a fucktruck. My dad keeps yelling at my mum while she's talking to other people because either he doesn't want her disclosing the details, or he disagrees with the way she's saying things. TBF we are waaaay past the point of self-censorship and he needs to get that. When I finally got through the perpetual 'busy' tone, my mum was basically crying because she hadn't eaten and she was tired and she couldn't even complete her sentence before someone else called again.
To be frank, I don't blame that family friend of mine for dealing with the whole business on her own. I'd not want to invite the circus into town either.
She said she wasn't going to be able to sleep because she thought she was too scared or something, so for the first time in our lives my dad went to a clinic to get some anti-anxiety pills that would help her sleep. Then she refused to take them because she was scared of the side effects, like bad dreams or nausea or whatever. I understand fear. God knows I would probably be reacting the same way. But that's fucking ridiculous. She needs to take the fucking pills and go the fuck to sleep so she can get some perspective in the morning.
The procedure is a standard one. They do it all the time. The radiation therapy will carry on for six months, and it will be painless. Side effects would generally include fatigue, loss of appetite and weightloss. MT's 85 year-old grandfather dealt with radiation much heavier than what they'll be giving my mum. MT's mum had the same pre-cancerous things in her ovaries fifteen years ago, and she was fine. My mum's going to be fine. She has to be fine. We just need to deal with the emotional stuff while the doctors deal with the medical stuff. She just needs to come to accept it, that yeah she has cancer, and that she's going to be fine. To be fair it's just been a little over twelve hours since she found out, so it's not like she's had that much time to process, really. She needs to give herself time to panic and freak out, and then she'll be okay. My sister said some fucking bullshit about 'not enabling the victim mentality' and how 'mum needs to control her thoughts and her fear' and I wanted to scream and slap her, because my sister has some guts talking about controlling her fear responses. My sister is scared all the fucking time, and this time my mum bloody well has the right to be scared. If she's forced into pretending she's okay, she'll throw herself off a bridge, and I will cut my sister into fucking pieces.
It doesn't feel like it's been twelve plus hours. It feels like it's been a year. I feel like I've aged. Tomorrow I'm going to get my dad to cut all the phones. They need some time to process without playing host for every fucking loser around town. i know they're support, I know they care, but really, when my mum says she doesn't want to meet anyone for a couple of days, people should get the fucking message.
In other news:
- I finished my final exams in law school. They went relatively well.
- I turned 22 the day before my final exam on the 29th May to little fanfare
- MT has been a godsend
- I haven't eaten in 36 hours and the very idea of putting a biscuit in my mouth is making me want to be sick again.
- watched xm:dofp in 3D with LK
I've got a packed social calendar for the next ten days or so. All of this shit was planned waaaay in advance and I can't really pull out. But I can't not go either, because I'll never see most of these people again. Ever. But I feel guilty and exhausted that I'm having (or trying to have) fun while my mum is on sleeping pills. But if I sit in my room I'm going to do nothing but cry. I've cried so much today, I'm so beyond exhausted. And I'm so tired of not knowing what to say, or trying to have a proper conversation with them when they keep putting down the phone. I'm so fucking tired of it all, and it's not even happening to me.
Also this means me and my sister are at greater risk of breast cancer, which is just fucking perfect and wonderful. I don't know what I'll do to thank the gods I'm starting to believe in if my mum is okay, though. I just need her to be okay.