Well, it's been quite a while since I put my brain to blog. A busy summer which included tennis tournaments (my son), a holiday to Portugal which was glorious until covid came knocking - nothing more stressful than being away from home needing a negative covid test to return and some news regarding my BRCA status on top of a couple of other personal things - my capacity cup was overflowing and thus my ability to actually write anything useful came to a grinding halt. The image below is from the brilliant @thepsychologymum on Instagram who is my go-to for reassurance regarding my mental health. Her simple images are brilliant and so helpful in knowing we are not alone. This can feel like a lonely isolating experience at times.
It's funny how we allow things to build up, without wanting to be gender stereotypical, I do think women take on so much of the emotional load. But, I also think there is a really important conversation to be had regarding women's health and how issues women face are often trivialised or minimised. We seem to accept quite a lot. Take my consultant catch up in August, where it was casually dropped I should have my Fallopian tubes removed; swiftly followed up with ‘you don’t need them anymore’….just because I don’t need them, doesn’t mean I want them taken away!
Add all this on top of 'previvor guilt' it's a lot to take on board. My cup is overflowing.
Previvor guilt is a horrible thing. The language and rhetoric used towards people facing preventative surgery needs to change. In some ways I get it. We are lucky. We have the opportunity to change the narrative of our family histories. In my case a father who died within months of his incurable diagnosis, both of his sisters diagnosed with breast cancer, one sadly passed and his mother, by maternal grandmother dying from secondary breast cancer. Believe me, you DO NOT need to tell someone who has cancer as a backdrop in their life how fortunate they are to have preventative surgery - we know, we are traumatised by cancer. It penetrates my thoughts on a daily basis. What if cancer catches me before I have my surgery? What if cancer is already lurking within my breasts - there is an 83% chance it is. Have I passed this gene onto my children? Guilt is a really complex emotion, experienced by most people in some way shape or form. I can feel grateful, guilty and sad about having the BRCA gene; grateful that in 2021 and on the NHS, I am able to remove and reconstruct my healthy/ticking time bomb breasts, remove my fallopian tubes and ovaries. Guilty, that others have not had this choice and are currently living with or in the fear of cancer day to day and sad, I can and am allowed to feel really sad that my womanhood, my fit and strong body
is facing two major surgeries in the space of 6 months, which I am 90% sure I'll recover from, but it is entering the unknown and who knows how I will respond.
I don't really know where I'm going with this (haha), I've just told my teenage son that I'm writing a new blog and he said "Don't make it a sop story, Mum nobody wants to read about boohoo me" - LOL, and now I'm questioning this whole post, but sod it, I think what I'm waffling on about is this, the way we all feel and react and respond to someone we know going through some stuff is unique. It'll be shaped by our own experiences and outlook on life, BUT there should really only be one or two responses 'I'm sorry you feel this way, how can I support you?'. Don't try to problem solve. Don't minimise. Don't tell someone they are lucky.
What's next for me is finally some certainty. Surgery scheduled end of October for round 1. My tubes and ovary will be removed. Very bloody sad about this, but accepting that in order to be as healthy as possible in the future it happens as quickly as possible.
Am going to gather my thoughts a bit more coherently next time and write about speaking to my children and being open with them regarding my surgeries.
Hope this garbled mess of words makes sense or is helpful to someone!
Some useful reading:
Much love, A x