• Kiren K Dhesi

Hairy legs alert :s

Having had one test after another I was given an oncologist. It was now time to get a treatment plan in place. My oncologist was called Dr Osler he was a lovely man very friendly and funny. He managed to make even the hardest of situations seem doable. There was one thing about him though, he had told us pretty early on in conversation that he had no children and had no interest in them at all. I don’t know how true this is but it definitely felt like his opinion impacted on the fact that fertility treatment was spoken about for maybe 2 minutes in total in our consultation. It was something which seemed pretty insignificant. To me though having spent my whole life dreaming of the day I would become a mum, it was one of the most important things in the world. But then that was in the real world.

The problem is it felt like I wasn’t living in the real world anymore, I was living in a world taken over by the word cancer and once diagnosed, everything moves super quick, you don’t get time to think. Consider the long term effects of today’s decisions. Everything is overshadowed by the word cancer and that’s it.

Dr Osler had made it very clear that he wanted me to start chemo immediately. The urgency was scary in itself if I didn’t take his advice the cancer would spread and my chance of survival would be even less. So I thought what’s the point of having my eggs frozen if I don’t survive myself. The eggs would be pointless.

The thing is fertility treatment takes from 2-6 weeks, and I was too scared to take that risk. The way it was explained to me was chemotherapy would stop my menstrual cycle and potentially it would never come back. Hence they offer you the fertility. In my heart I had decided that if it was in my destiny to have children, after chemo my cycle would come back and if it wasn’t well that was that. I decided all this whilst sitting in Dr Osler’s office. I remember Aman saying, ‘why don’t you take some time to think about this’ But in my head all I was thinking was I don’t have time. I need to get rid of this cancer. I need this cancer gone.

The next day I had an appointment with my surgeon Dr Al DaBasi He told me that they had decided to change my treatment plan. After all that I wouldn’t be starting chemo straight away. This was pretty normal things changed like the weather. He told me I would have an operation a sentinel node biopsy, in which they would remove some lymph nodes as they needed further investigating, the lymph nodes are the first place a primary tumour drains. They weren’t worried but they wanted to double check.

Great I thought, further investigating is never something you want to hear. But it was what it was and I just had to deal with it. And on the other hand at least they were being thorough I didn’t want to go through all this and they had missed something. It’s amazing how practical I was about being, I impressed myself lol. He then went on to tell me that my recovery after the procedure was 3-4 weeks And only after that would I start my chemo.

In that instant I thought the gods must be shining down on me and this is a blessing in disguise. I told Dr Al DaBasi if recovery was a few weeks, could I have my fertility treatment in that time. He said I could, but we needed to move really quickly. So he sent the letter out immediately and booked me in for a Monday morning appointment across London in Hackney to start the fertility process.

But before that I needed my surgery so the next day Thursday, 24 hours before surgery I was prepped. Now I’m the kind of girl who is fascinated by what medical science is able to do, and this next procedure was not going to disappoint. As you know by now stripping off and letting every other medical Tom Dick and Harry have a look at my breasts (medical, don’t get any ideas) is the norm. So with my top off I lay down on the bed. The nurse brings out this pretty bold, pretty big blue coloured injection. This is permanent blue dye, and mixed with that is radioactive material. She injects me with it just next to my nipple, it hurt as much as a blood test wasn’t bad at all. This solution then travels through your lymphatic system, which the nurse watches on a machine and marks the outside of your body with the route it’s taking. So when the surgeon operates he can operate more precisely. The dye follows the route the cancer would have done. This dye does mark your skin and can be permanent, mine thankfully has gone so no blue boob :). You are also told to stay away from pregnant women as although minuscule you have been injected with radioactive material. Which takes about 48 hours to come out of your body. I mean how cool is this, fascinating right? Don’t worry my mum thinks I’m pretty nutty too.

During all this craziness happening in my life, the bad news didn’t hold back on our family. My uncle passed away, my mums brother in law. He was in India. I remember sitting in the car with my mum a few days after we found out and talking to her. Her sister in India didn’t have anyone by her side, my grandparents are in Canada so is her brother and my mum is here. My mum was adamant that she wasn’t going to India to be with her because she said I needed her here. But of course she felt terrible about it, how could she be in two places at the same time.

I remember saying to her ‘mum I don’t need you here, dads here he looks after me better than anyone and I’m actually fine. I have my sisters my brother, everyone’ I went on to say ‘I have everyone, my aunt has no one, what’s the point in your sister having siblings when in her time of need none of you will be there’

I think it really hit a nerve and rung true with her. If your family aren’t there in your hard times, whats the point in family right. So she decided she would go. Her flight was at about 8pm the day of my surgery.

So the morning of surgery, I said bye to my mum although I was convinced I’d be back before she left but just in case. And then dad dropped me to the Royal Free for about 7.30 am. My sisters wanted to come with me, but it was soo pointless them waiting around for hours, so I convinced them I’d be fine alone.

I’d actually never had surgery before so I really didn’t know how it worked. I checked in and there was this huge waiting room where people were in for all sorts of operations. There were 11 theatres in total and we were in a queuing system for our allocated theatre. It was like a drab horrible train station, with people constantly coming and going and the chairs were soooo uncomfortable. I was the second person on my theatres list, the wait I was told would be about 3/4 hours. I said ok and sat down.

In front of me was a lady, in her gown all ready to be taken into theatre. She had a bold head no eyebrows and was talking to my breast consultant. It looked like she was the patient before me. I watched her as her husband hugged her and gave her a kiss on the forehead. Before she was taken away. That was going to be me in a few months I thought. It left a lump in my throat to be honest, everything that represents being a women taken away from you. A mere piece of you left. It shock me.

Anyway with all these thoughts going on and the waiting area being so depressing. There was one positive and that was the view was not bad at all. I picked up my phone and messaged my friend Morris He’s like my big brother and said ‘I cant believe how many handsome doctors are walking around, literally can’t believe it, one after the other Mo it’s like being in doctor heaven lol I soo should have been a nurse’. Within the depressing reality I had a very nice distraction and I wasn’t complaining.

Finally around 2 o’clock, I was told I’d go into surgery soon and to get ready. Omg I was not prepared for this, the surgery was happening under my arm so I assumed I would strip just my top half, but oh no I had to take off everything, every single bloody thing and put on the gown. Well I hadn’t shaved my legs, I didn’t know. There goes the doctor husband, as out come the manly legs. I’m Asian believe me when I say manly legs, I know attractive huh lol. Luckily enough you are also given long socks which helps, and just as well really because I was then given a pillow and walked across the hospital to the operating theatres, they were not close.

I lay on the bed looking at the radioactive sign and the little window with the curtain in the door which leads through to the theatre totally intrigued as to what the inside looked like. One of the surgeons opens the door slightly and says we are ready now, which further intrigues me because they make a point of not allowing you to see inside. The anaesthetist hooks me up to the drip and says this is going to feel like you have just had a Gin and tonic.

What feels like 2 minutes later, I’m waking up with a gas mask on my face in a room with lots of patients who are completely out of it. The nurse comes over and gives me some water. How are you feeling she asks me, clearly I’m high on pain relief because I feel great. I tell her I’m good and when can I go home. I really wanted to see my mum before she left just to let her know that I was absolutely fine. So she didn’t worry. Well it’s not that easy. I had to wait in that room for about half an hour and then I was bought upstairs to the recovery ward where I was told I had to drink a jug of water, go to the toilet and eat some biscuits before I was allowed to leave. I actually can’t sit still to save my life. So I downed the jug of water (I’m good at knocking back drinks :)) and I voice noted my family group to tell them I was absolutely fine no pain all good.

My little sister Herds then messages and says ‘Sarah, you sound hilarious, you are clearly high on medication don’t rush coming home take your time,rest’ I honestly thought I sounded fine. But then I think I sound fine after 5 glasses of wine so that’s not much to go on I suppose.

Anyway I went to the toilet and ate my biscuits, bourbons which I now have an addiction too. I was checked by the doc and given the go ahead to go home. The timing was perfect as my daddy walked in through the door to collect me. I get home still feeling ok. Dad makes dinner and I go to bed.

The next day my sister comes over. My mum has been making my dad tea in bed from the day she got married, so when mums away the daughters try their best to keep it up. So Aman makes me and dad tea in bed and then makes us paratas (Indian stuffed chapattis). I was being spoilt. It was a strange to be honest because normally when anyone would come I’d always be in the kitchen, I wasn’t used to doing nothing.

I was in pain now, the drugs had completely worn off but I was managing. It was made that much harder because I was left handed and the surgery was on the left too. Saturday passed and we all decided via our family chat that on Sunday we would go out for lunch if I was up for it. And of course I was, I don’t like sitting still for long.

Sunday morning came and I got in the shower, and with the thought that I had to see the fertility doctor on Monday I thought I’d better shave as well, i didn’t want to repeat the hospital embarrassment.

I remember trying to wash myself and my hair, without getting the operated part wet it wasn’t easy. And then I got the shaver out, I tried with my right hand as my left arm was now killing me with pain. I cut myself sooo many times there was blood everywhere. Shaving cuts are like paper cuts aren’t they, they can be the smallest peskiest things but omg the amount of blood. So I went back to using my left hand, the pain was excruciating and I remember just sitting in the shower crying and crying. It was because I was hurting of course but there was much more to my tears. It was like shit is this going to be my life now. Not being able to do something as simple as have a shower. I don’t know how long I was there but Aman knocked to ask if I was ok. So it had to be some time. I said yes pulled myself together and came out the shower.

It was pretty obvious I’d been crying, my face goes that Red blotchy colour hard to hide. Aman asked

‘what’s wrong are you ok’ ‘no’ I said ‘I’m pissed off!!!! I can’t even shave my bloody legs properly’ whilst I started crying again ‘it’s sooo fucking stupid because I’m crying over removing hair, hair I’ll be crying over not having in a few weeks what the hell’ at this point I was laughing crying listening to the irony coming out of my mouth.

Then I hear the front door open and the voices of my niece and nephew, and everything disappeared. They run upstairs hug their Masi (me) it’s hurts because they don’t know but I don’t care. It’s the warmest most soothing feeling being hugged by the most amazing little humans in your life. Instantly in their presence. your mind is transported to a better place. After that I sucked it up Aman dried my hair and off we all went for lunch.

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