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So how did it all start? – Part 1

13 December 2011

I’ll start with a tiny synopsis of our life before cancer.

Cat and I met in 2002 and bought a cottage together in Maidstone in 2004. Nathaniel came along in December 2005 and while things were good in the cottage for a while we decided that the allure of the river would be too much for Nathaniel as he got older. We moved up to Higham Ferrers in 2007 and made plans to have a winter wedding at Rockingham Castle in December 2008.

One morning in May 2008, Cat said she thought she had found a lump. She asked me to see what I thought and my only comment was ‘yes, it’s a lump’. It’s not like men are trained in this sort of thing. I mentioned that a previous girlfriend had suffered from granular cysts and that I thought it may be just that – always the optimist.

Cat made an appointment with the GP and she agreed that it needed checking professionally and made the referral. There are supposed to be timescales that the NHS works to with regards to possible tumours but somehow Cat slipped through and was told it would be six weeks before a mammogram could be performed. Six weeks of worrying. I think not.

At this stage we didn’t know what we were dealing with, so Cat decided to go private so that we could get any scans or biopsies done as quickly as possible. She met with a consultant at the local private hospital and they decided to go with an ultrasound with biopsy. During the ultrasound it was found that the original lump was in fact a cyst but that there were two deep tissue lumps that needed checking. I know we think of biopsies in the same was as keyhole surgery but they are not painless.

The biopsy results were as Cat expected – I was still holding out for a non-cancerous growth. It was not to be – confirmed cancerous tissue in both tumours. Due to the size and deep tissue nature the recommendation was a full mastectomy with axillary node clearance (removal of the lymph nodes under the arm on the same side). Of course having had the tests performed privately we thought that we had to continue with the private route and without private health care (I had the quotes but not yet paid the premium) this would financially cripple us. Our consultant was able to switch us to his NHS list and scheduled the operation for 8 days time.

I never really thought what this operation would mean to us as a couple. I think I was rather blasé about the whole thing and couldn’t understand why Cat was so upset. Men tend to forget that breasts are large defining part of a woman and to lose just one must be devastating – I’m not sure how women who lose both cope at all. I assumed that nothing would change between us.

Our plans for a winter wedding had to be scrapped – thankfully I did take out wedding insurance. I’m not sure why. We obtained special dispensation from The Registrar General in London to have a wedding performed without the usual formalities and we were married five days later.

Three days after the wedding Cat went into hospital for the operation…

 

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