The C Word


Beyond the obvious and my issues with hypoglycaemia, I’ve never really given all that much thought to my physical health. It’s always been my mental health that’s caused me problems and in the mess that is my tenuous and hard won illusion of normality there wasn’t really space in my head to focus on much else. Sure I get sick, but a few weeks of grumpy sniffling and a course of antibiotics and I’m fine.

Now though, I’m thinking about it. It’s all I’m thinking about, because I am in the middle of my first real health scare.

The conversation with my doctor about my cholesterol levels and liver functions was bad enough, apparently I’ve reached that age where these things stop being old people problems and and become things I legitimately need to keep an eye on now. It was actually kind of scary, in a vague ‘Oh God I’m not equipped to be responsible for my own wellbeing‘ sort of way.

But that abstract fear became acutely defined yesterday when an ultrasound found not one, but two, unidentified masses in my left breast and lymph nodes.

Let me just repeat that.

An unidentified mass. In my breast.


Of all the medical issues I’d expected to deal with at this stage in my life, I’m pretty sure that one was skulking somewhere around the bottom of the list, if it was even on there at all.

Alcohol poisoning? Yes. Random hormonal imbalances? Sure, why not. Torn ligaments? I still have my crutches from last time.

But this? The sudden and awful possibility that one of my best assets may be trying to kill me? Never even crossed my mind.


And maybe it should have. I know the statistics, I buy the pink ribbon merch and am constantly reminded by fem-lit and PSA’s to do regular checks. I see the makeover videos and am consistently awed by the strength and positivity of these women who have been through or are going through hell.

It just never really occurred to me that there was even a chance that I might ever be one of them. I guess one of the worst things about growing up is the jarring realisation that you’re not actually invincible.


Of course, none of this is to say that I will be diagnosed with the worst case scenario…

There are still tests to be done and doctors to consult and it could be totally benign and absolutely nothing to worry about. I could be freaking out for no reason. I could be making a huge fuss out of a small  anomaly and will probably feel completely ridiculous when I’m told that I’m just fine. But there’s still that niggling little voice in the back of my head that just says ‘maybe’. Maybe it’s not nothing, maybe it’s something I should have been worrying about for months now. Maybe I have cancer.

Either way, my whole world view shifted just a little to the left yesterday and this new perspective brings to light possibilities I don’t know how to be prepared for. Possibilities I don’t want to have to be prepared for.

I don’t want to be scared.  I don’t want to feel like I’ve been betrayed by my own body.  I don’t want to have cause to obsess over my own mortality.

But more than anything, I don’t want to have to just sit around waiting. Because for all that I don’t know if I can handle the answer, I do know that the uncertainty is worse. There is nothing worse than not knowing.


I just want to stop holding my breath.


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