Erica has been recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and in her column she is charting her journey from diagnosis and through treatment.
HAVING recently being diagnosed with breast cancer I was now awaiting a date for surgery. A few weeks had passed by and life seemed to carry on as normal. I played sport, went to the beach, ferried my children from place to place…business as usual.
I have to say that the waiting became onerous. So, on the advice of an Oncologist friend I went knocking on doors at the hospital to see if I could speed up the process or at least get an operation date. Being a single working mother with two children, I had quite a lot of organising to do.
I fronted up at the hospital and knocked on a door that read ´Secretary to Surgeons´…seemed like a good place to start. Little did I know that the woman sifting through papers within would actually be my surgeon. I asked her if it would be possible to speak to the secretary as I wanted to find out when my operation was scheduled for.
She asked me my name and said: “Ah yes, Erica, you´ve got me…how about Friday morning next week?” Well if there ever were a case for if you don´t ask you don´t get, this was it!
She took the opportunity to examine me and patiently answered all my questions. I came away feeling elated. I now had a date, yet to be officially confirmed, but at least I could plan for my hospital stay. For those of you who don´t speak Spanish use the interpreter services offered at the hospital. I was visited to check I was fully aware of what was happening. I did not need this service being a Spanish speaker but can imagine this would be of great comfort to someone who does not speak Spanish.
The ensuing week was a blizzard of phones calls and planning, cleaning the house, filling up heavy gas bottles, (no lifting after the operation) doing a super shop, my freezer was crammed full. Neighbours and dear friends were mobilised, like a military operation people were getting ready to take my children to and from school and to their activities, every granny, aunt and friend in the Malaga area was offering to cook for me. All my English students were outstanding.
Endless prayers were being said, candles were being lit and Holy Water was being bought. Whether you are religious or not, every positive thought and act is a massive boost. Remember to accept help and let people in. Then there was my family spread across the world and my friends in England. They know who they are, the best, kindest and most outstanding people. Instead of feeling despair or sadness I just felt overwhelmingly fortunate and loved.
On September 18 I went to the hospital accompanied by someone very special to me and waited to be called to go up to my room. I didn´t have long to wait, my name was bellowed out over the loud speaker and I was given my room number and up I went.
I knocked on the door and found that I was sharing with a shy girl. I said hello and went over to my bed and unpacked my stuff. Once installed, I twitched the curtain dividing us and asked if she felt up to a chat. I found out that she was waiting to have her gallbladder removed. She was homesick and missing her baby twins, who were just weeks old. We chatted, well I did more talking than her but she seriously needed cheering up!
Her mother was a lovely woman from Granada, always up for eating the cakes that my visitors were to bring me and indeed any biscuits that might be going spare. In fact I couldn´t have wished for a better room-mate. She was quiet and shy but she soon got used to me ambling around with my nightie half undone and at times part of my rear showing. Covering up ones backside didn´t seem to be a priority to me!
Then the nurse descended to put my drip in, check I didn´t have any nail polish on and to give me an idea of my operation time and how things ran in the hospital. I was a little concerned by the appearance of my nurse, who was a very short individual, totally boss eyed and talking to himself. I did cross myself and prayed he’d find my vein first time. You should not judge a book by its cover, he was a pro and I hardly felt a thing. Then my temperature was taken, as was my blood pressure and smart compression or anti-deep vein thrombosis socks were handed to me to put on before my operation. A bit of light supper, a consommé and then a shot in the arm to ensure my blood didn’t clot and then off to sleep.
Tomorrow was going to be a big day.