The lead up to my first operation

The few days after being diagnosed were full of shock and emotion. I remember waking up the following morning, looking at Carl, and asking if it was all just a bad dream! I didn’t want to get out of bed let alone leave the house. That day is all a bit of a blur, I was there in body but my mind was elsewhere. Was this really happening to me? One day I was living a completely normal happy life, chasing around after my 2 year old daughter, enjoying my pregnancy and the next I’m given devastating news that will change my life forever.

My sister worked from my house again to keep me company along with a few friends that came to visit. The bouquets of flowers had already started coming in thick and fast. The only way my family and friends could make me feel a little bit better and I was grateful for every single gesture.

One of my best friends offered to take me out for breakfast on Thursday once I’d dropped Sienna off at Pre School, something I was also dreading. Luckily, my sister had pre warned the staff the day before so they were aware of my situation. It was an emotional drop off but the staff have been absolutely amazing with me and Sienna and I want to keep her in her routine as much as possible.

I suffer from anxiety at times, some worse than others, this came on when me first husband, Sean, fell ill with cancer and has never left me to this day. Its part of who I am. People who don’t suffer from anxiety will never really understand how it feels and effects you. I was panicking about where Hannah and I would be going. I didn’t want to see people, I didn’t want to be in a busy place, I didn’t want to break down in tears if I bumped into someone I knew and they asked how I am! How do you answer that question 2 days after being diagnosed with cancer? Luckily, she knows me too well and took me to The Yurt at Nicholson Nursery where it was nice and quiet.

I was fine once we got there, we had a lovely breakfast and a good chat about what had happened the last couple of days, it was really nice to get out of my four walls. Then my phone rang, a nurse asking me if I could attend a pre op at the Horton Hospital the next day, Friday 9th March.

As far as I was concerned my operation to have a Lumpectomy (where the tumour and surrounding tissue would be removed) was pencilled in for Thursday 22nd March. But she then told me it would be happening on Monday 12th March, 6 days after finding out the devastating news I had breast cancer. To me and my family the operation couldn’t come quick enough. As soon as I knew the lump in my breast I had been feeling for the last 4 weeks was a tumour I wanted to gouge it out myself. I couldn’t stop touching it and hating the fact I had cancer in my body. I wanted it out before it spread, the sooner the better, even if I hadn’t had time to digest my diagnosis. Something the medical team were concerned about. Normally operations would happen 2-4 weeks from being diagnosed. My surgeon had pulled out all the stops to get me in as quick as possible, I couldn’t be more grateful for what he had done.

I spent the weekend before my operation with my family. My family are everything to me, this isn’t just affecting me, its having a huge affect on them too. We went for a lovely Sunday roast as it was Mothers Day. My last meal until after I had the operation the following day. One thing I never loose is my appetite, I already couldn’t wait to eat after surgery!

Monday morning came, my sister picked Sienna up to take her to pre school, I squeezed her so tightly especially as I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that for a good few weeks after surgery. Shortly after, my parents came to pick Carl and I up to go to the Churchill Hospital. I started to feel anxious, this was really happening. We started to approach the Churchill, my heart started racing, the palms of my hands were clammy, my stomach in knots. I had never had an operation before, let alone having one while pregnant. Reality had started to kick in.

Firstly, I checked in at day surgery where I got called in to be marked up and sign the consent form before being sent down to breast screening to have an ultrasound and a wire inserted in my breast, which latched onto the tumour to guide my surgeon to it. I kept being told I needed a wire but I didn’t really know what it involved until it was in. That’s when it finally hit me that I was about to have surgery to remove the tumour. I laid on the hospital bed while the nurses dressed around the wire, a plastic cup on the end and plenty of dressing to stop the wire from moving. Tears were rolling down my face yet again. I walked back to the small waiting room to Mum, Dad and Carl , I sat there and just cried.

After various scans, mammograms and injections I went back up to day surgery where I was seen by my surgeon who decided to change the way he was going to cut me, his motto is ‘less is more’ I was then covered in purple and black marker pen. I looked like a road map. The anaesthetist came and went through everything with me, my hearts racing at this point, its getting closer for me to be called for surgery.

By this point it was gone 3pm, I was told to go and say my goodbyes to Mum, Dad and Carl, I held back the tears until I turned to walk away. Shortly after I got called to walk down to theatre. I walked down the corridor and into a white room, I’ve never seen anything so clinical, the hospital bed in the middle of the room. It was a weird feeling. I laid on the bed, 2 nurses and the anaesthetist around me, getting me ready for surgery. Before I knew it the cannula was going in and I was given a mask to hold and took some deep breaths, after 4-5 breaths I was out.

I hear my name being called, “Danielle, Danielle”, I open my eyes in recovery and I ask where Sienna is. She’s always on my mind. Its around 6.30pm, I was in surgery for nearly 3 hours. It was a harder operation than my surgeon first thought but he hoped he had removed everything he needed to. I felt discomfort instantly and a stinging feeling that I will never forget. Being pregnant, the only pain relief I could have was paracetamol. It all felt very surreal.

I got taken up to a ward where they had a spare bed and I was told I could either go home or because I had a bed they were happy for me to stay over night and go home in the morning. By the time I got on the ward and my parents and Carl came up to see me time was getting on. I was as comfortable as I could be and made the decision to stay. I didn’t get much sleep that night, I was being checked every 2 hours.

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I couldn’t wait for Mum and Carl to come back and collect me. They arrived around 8.30am, I was sat up in the chair with my cold toast in front of me. I was waiting for them to get there to butter it for me I Couldn’t really move my left arm due to the surgery and I was hooked up to an IV drip in the right which had given me a swollen hand. My surgeon came to check on me and was happy for me to go home as soon as I was ready.

Shortly after, me being me did my party trick. I could feel myself boiling up so Carl went to the next bay to get me the fan……………

The next thing I remember I’m being dragged from the chair to the bed by a nurse and 2 doctors. I had passed out. Its not unusually for me, I can pass out due to various different things. The curtains are drawn round, I’m laid flat on the bed with my legs elevated 6 doctors and nurses around me doing various checks and blood tests. I look over to see Mum and Carl stood to one side in shock. Luckily, after getting test results back everything was fine and I got the all clear to go home.

The journey home was uncomfortable, I felt every bump in the road. But it was such a nice feeling being back and seeing Sienna, even if I couldn’t cuddle her. I had missed her so much. She had made me a get well soon card at pre school, it melted my heart.

Danielle x

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