I’m better now, but the last two days have been characterised by lots of crying, moping about and feeling ridiculously sorry for myself.


This in spite of the decision being made – double mastectomy with reconstruction. The full Angelina. But far from feeling relieved, I’m incredibly daunted.

Having been  chirpy and optimistic previously, the more I get my head around my new reality – major surgery and a long recovery time – the more nervous I feel. Uncharacteristically, I’ve been catastrophising. How is my body going to cope with general anaesthetic and opiate-based pain relief? I’ve only had four Nurofen in the last year!

I’ve been thrashing around like Morten Harket at the end of the Take on Me video (or for those under 35, like a wild animal) resisting  what’s in store with all my might. I even had an attempt at bargaining, (one of the  seven stages of grief) toying with the idea of not doing anything – and feeling excited about it too – before realising that wasn’t realistic and bloody well crying again.

I felt stronger a week ago than I do now, but I know from losing mum and dad that grief is not linear, particularly in the early days when some hours you’re fine, others you’re in a heap, other times you think you’re fine and someone shows an ounce of kindness and down you go.

Whilst trapped in my cul-de-sac of raw horror I’ve had the self-awareness to keep a low profile, sparing others the indignity of my anxiety. Anais Nin says:

Anxiety… makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.

No-one wants to come with you when you’re in a truly dark place and that’s fair enough.

The hardest thing about grieving is you can be supported to the hilt, as I am, but you are required to go through large elements, e.g. the operation and recovery in my case, alone. Say I’m in the mind of my friends for around 15 minutes a day, I reckon that’s about the same amount of time I’m NOT thinking of losing my breasts, having cancer, being operated on and so on.

A story with my kids. A classic 80’s track. A strategic challenge within Flying Solo. All of these provide welcome distractions.

But for much of the remaining 23 hours and 45 minutes a day, you can find me pinballing down corridors.

2 Comments on a-ha moments

  1. Well done on decision Sam. You are entitled to as many poor me moments as you need! X Glad you have made connections with the grief cycle. This is a time of loss. The loss of the possibility of Cancer. It is now a reality and you are dealing with it in the best ways you can. Of course you will miss your breasts and all they signify to you and others – body image, sex, nourishment. You can be grateful to give them up in good shape – better than post menopausal flappers!
    You are such a committed person Sam. I can see you must give this your all and anything I can do to support you, I will. Keep in touch. XX

  2. Your reactions are utterly, decidedly and rightly normal. Allowing yourself to grieve is a very good thing. Take care of yourself Sam. If you need to chat, cry or laugh, just call.