After recovering from my hysterectomy (please read My Traumatic Hysterectomy) and seeking help for my mental health (please read Living with PTSD), I felt renewed and back to my old self. Time continued to go by, and I finally felt free from the clutches of doctors and hospitals.
Until I felt a large lump in my breast. Dear God, No! I begged the Lord; I can’t return to the hospital. My mind instantly went to the worst-case scenario. I had already labelled myself as a dead woman walking. But, after I had mentally gotten my funeral sorted, common sense returned, and I hesitantly made an appointment with my GP.
However, I received no good news from my doctor. I was quickly sent off to have a mammogram and ultrasound at the Benson Radiology. Yet again, I was under the control of the health system. While I was at my ultrasound appointment, time seemed to stop. I felt engulfed by overwhelming fear and anxiety. My sonographer was meticulous until she told me that I had a large cyst. She jumped up, told me she’d be back shortly and left. For a moment, I felt relieved. I thought to myself, thank goodness, it’s just a cyst. I can get out of here. Unfortunately, my happiness was short-lived.
My sonographer returned with the radiologist. Alarm bells started going off. They told me not to worry, “we just want to have a good look at what’s behind the cyst”. Unfortunately, though, a cancerous lump was found.
Sadly, my day wasn’t done. They needed to stick a needle into the cancerous lump and conduct a biopsy. NO FLIPPIN’ WAY. I was hyperventilating by this point. I knew this would hurt, and I was right. It brought tears to my eyes with pain as they pushed this long needle into my breast.
I left the appointment feeling utterly shaken, anxious, and sore. I thought to myself, ‘the world must truly hate me. Otherwise, why would this be happening?’.
My next appointment was with my oncologist. I endured yet another mammogram and biopsy. I was thankful to have a local anesthetic for the discomfort this time. It showed me that someone cared for my pain. A further appointment was made to discuss the results.
Although the appointments were necessary, they quickly became an arduous hassle having to travel to the oncologist as my family and I live rurally. In addition, my 2 young daughters would usually travel with us as we wouldn’t make it back in time for school pick-up.
On one occasion, I remember sitting in the waiting room alongside another woman who was excited to have bone cancer. I was dumbfounded. I could not fathom why anyone would wish for cancer. So, I started silently praying to myself not to absorb her negative energy.
I know cancer isn’t contagious, but while I sat in the waiting room amongst other cancer patients. I felt fearful of contracting more cancer. It was like it was in the air surrounding me.
My oncologist advised me that I needed a lumpectomy to remove the cancerous lump. NO! NO! NO! I couldn’t go through that again. I felt intense, unwavering panic from the thought of having surgery. One of my worst fears is returning to the hospital for an operation. I was sure that the doctors would kill me quicker than the cancer would. I struggled to have faith in my doctor. I was putting my life into the hands of someone I didn’t really know. I needed to have someone who cared whether I lived or died.
I explained to my oncologist that my last operation was a hellhole that almost killed me. Thankfully, I had a very empathetic doctor this time around, and I was assured that history wouldn’t repeat itself.
However, when surgery day arrived, those words of comfort did nothing to calm my nerves. Next thing, I was wheeled off to the operating room. Although, I felt like I was being forcefully taken to my execution. As I was given the anesthetic, I feared that it would be the last time I opened my eyes.
Mercifully, I lived through my ordeal, and the surgery was a success. The next day my oncologist returned with good news. My cancer was contained and hadn’t spread. He had also cut a wide margin around the cancer site, significantly reducing the chances of the cancer returning. I was over the moon with joy and relief. Thankfully, I didn’t require any further treatment.
This happened roughly 8 years ago, and to date, all has been great.
I am so grateful for the care that I received. It was a massive difference from my treatment when I had my hysterectomy. It somewhat restored my faith in the health system. Don’t get me wrong, I still get anxious when entering a hospital. Still, I have some reassurance knowing that there are health practitioners who genuinely care for my life and wellbeing. I can now tell myself that I’m not going to die at the hands of medical staff every time I enter a hospital.