Well, guess who got in touch? The lady in the red-brick house who had breast cancer, and I am quite glad she did. Yesterday afternoon she stopped by while canvassing and left her number with my parents. So of course, happy to see this slip of paper as I arrived home, I called her right away.
Fast forward to this morning, walking through the snow back up my favourite street and being greeted at her door. With an invitation for tea, we got together and had a chat (and some lovely gluten-free, lactose-free muffins). Honestly, I never imagined this scenario; it must have been over ten years since I was last in her home to babysit. One time while she and her husband were away (and I was ‘on the job’) her son and I somehow managed to get locked outside of the house. Desperate not to look like an idiot, I asked the neighbours if they had a key – but no luck. Instead they had a ladder. . . essentially I broke in through the window and climbed into the kitchen sink (then crawled along the floor to deactivate the alarm). Yeah, that was a bit embarrassing overall, but also rather resourceful now that I look back.
Anyhow, never in my life would I have imagines a conversation about breast cancer taking place at the home where I once crawled into the kitchen sink. But life is surprising (with breast cancer being a surprise for everyone involved) however, it was real pleasure to sit down and compare experiences (and catch up; funny how it’s so easy to lose track of someone’s life, even if they only live down the road).
Despite some differences in treatment and diagnosis, both systems seem to move quickly. I guess that’s a reassurance to women freshly diagnosed in both Canada and England. You will be attended, and it’ll happen right away. In England my medication was all covered, in Canada a drug plan is very helpful. In Canada they have a nurse designated to help during chemo, in England they have a nurse designated to help with overall breast cancer. I think it’d be ideal to have both types of nurses available. When first diagnosed questions swirl around and it’s useful to easily find answers, and chemotherapy is such a tiring process that having a contact would be reassuring.
Anyhow, we compared notes. Talking was such a pleasure, and talking over tea made it all the better. It’s very nice to connect with someone who has been there and done that. For various reasons I’ve never been to keen to join support groups, but chatting with a neighbour was different.
Overall, I’m quite glad she had guts to start the conversation. I should learn from her example.