Thursday, 28 June 2018

The Call #WriteBravely #Day5



Image credit: https://www.pexels.com/search/telephone/


Catherine knew she had to make the call. As soon as she opened her eyes the thought pierced her brain. The surgery would be open at 8.30 so she could get it out of the way. She was due at her Weight Watchers meeting at 10. It was just a formality. She was sure it was nothing.

"This won't kill you," her GP had said. Dr  Fiona McAllister had a forthright but reassuring manner. She had guided Catherine's hand to her right breast where she'd found the small lump. Catherine had felt an odd sense of detachment as she lay there for the exam.

Slowly she got up, put her bra and top on, smoothed her crumpled hair. Maybe if she focused on these simple tasks she could pretend this wasn't happening.

"I don't think it's cancer," Fiona was saying. Her actions belied her words. She picked up the phone to book Catherine in for a mammogram. She'd only come in for a routine check up. There had been no inkling of any worrying lumps or symptoms. Besides, she was young, fit and healthy. Wasn't she? Her hard work at Weight Watchers had paid off. She'd never felt better.

"How's tomorrow?"
"Fine," Catherine's voice seemed to be coming from far away. If she doesn't think it's cancer, why the hurry? Another voice whispered ominously in the back of her mind.

Common sense clicked back into place the following morning. She remained calm as the imposing machine crushed her flesh. The imaging staff were encouraging. It seemed almost certain that it was something small and benign. The results confirmed it. There was no need for alarm.

Fiona insisted on sending Catherine for a biopsy anyway. That's the kind of doctor she was. Thorough, as well as kind. It was one of the reasons Catherine never put off her appointments. Checking in with Fiona was almost like chatting with a good friend.

Catherine uncurled her legs from the bed and padded to the bathroom. She went through her morning ritual as she reflected on the past few weeks. She brushed her teeth, put the coffee on. Carefully chose her clothes.

Soon she was dressed and caffeinated. Time to make the call. To cross it off her to-do list. It was just a formality. Then the eerie voice surfaced again.

"They don't send you for a biopsy unless they're worried there's a chance of finding something."

She placed the call with shaky hands and a thundering heart. A rush of dread threatened to engulf her. Fiona was with a patient but would ring her back immediately. Catherine waited for the phone to ring and her heart to slow.

Danny had taken the girls to school en route  to his office. They hadn't been expecting bad news. She picked up her mobile phone and began scrolling through social media to distract herself. Seconds later, the landline blared.

"Hello," she said.. Her equilibrium had returned. Soon she could get on with her day.

"Hi Catherine, it's Fiona," the doctor was her usual warm but professional self. She didn't waste any time.

"I'm sorry, but they did find something."

"Fuck," Catherine blurted.

Fiona didn't blanch.  "That was my reaction, too when I read it."

Catherine was instructed to get a pen. Writing the words would make it real. This can't be happening.

Infiltrating carcinoma insitzu.

Infiltrating? She didn't like the sound of this. Why?

She thought of Danny and the girls going about their day. Blissfully unaware that their whole world was currently being turned upside down. Fiona wanted them to come to the surgery as soon as possible to make a plan.

She called Danny and got his voice mail. She left a croaky message. The words couldn't quite come out. He called back five minutes later. Her panic had clearly been discernible through the croakyness.

"They found something," she told him.

"Shit. I'm sorry," She knew he would want to be as positive and proactive as possible.

"I'm going to call Fiona and then I'll be home to go with you," her husband said. 

She hung up and immediately picked up the phone again to call her mother.

The conversation was brief. Audrey drove straight over.  The two women embraced. Her mother was always a tower of strength, but this would be so difficult for her. She always hated to see Catherine suffer.

"I'm going to phone Penny," she said.

Catherine paced while her mother placed the call. Penny was a good friend of her parents who was in the medical field. She would be able to recommend a good surgeon.

Audrey passed her the phone, but Catherine wasn't capable of small talk at the best of times.

"Look, it's a journey," Penny told her. It wouldn't be the first time she would hear that word.

But she would face the journey and the fear. She knew she would.

"She's stronger than she thinks," Fiona remarked later, as they sat in her office preparing referrals and appointments. The first of many more to come.

Catherine was slowly accepting her new reality. Later, when she reflected upon her "journey", as she was loathe call it, she realised something. Fiona's words that day had been true.

Somehow she had made it through the long road of surgery, chemo and radiation.  She'd faced up to something she'd never believed she could.

"I don't run from anything anymore," she thought.

The End.

But only the beginning...

Side note: This is a fictionalised version of my own breast cancer diagnosis, with names and some other details changed. Inspired by the following quote:


“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of them all.” – Mulan

Linking up with Write Tribe for Festival Of Words. 



Reactions:

9 comments:

  1. Beautifully written, a story that sounds so familiar :) x x

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  2. I am so touched by this story, Ness. Kudos to you for braving that journey.

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  3. This is a very moving story. I am sorry about your breast cancer but respect to you for being such a survivor.

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  4. So moved by your piece of writing, Ness! I cannot even imagine what you would've gone through as a victim of breast cancer but it is incredibly brave of you to have thought of sharing your journey with us! More power to you, Ness!

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  5. Was moved by this story, especially when I understood the truth behind it. A brave piece of writing. Kudos to you, Ness!

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  6. Extrmely heart felt. More power to your and your family. I am sure you are not afraid to face anything now.

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  7. It must have difficult to share this. It was brave of you and an inspiration to those facing the same situation

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  8. Inspiring words of courage . The names may be changed but the experience is as painful as ever. Talking about illnesses helps in coping so appreciate your sharing ... stay well .

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