Last night was slightly manic. Combine watching the last episode of Ugly Betty where Molly dies from cancer with staying up too late and an itchy nipple, and things turn a little crazy.
Before finding the cancer in my breast, my nipple had become permanently erect and frequently itchy. Stupid being stupid, I didn’t go to the doctor and ask for a check up. Instead I kept thinking, “how annoying, how very annoying.” And that was all.
Now I think: OH MY GOD, CANCER.
The other end of the panic spectrum.
It was late last night when I felt an itch, about 11.30 – I reached across my nipple to scratch, felt it was erect and sat up in bed immediately. Light switch on, finger probing and I’m checking for lumps (for the `1000th time in the past two weeks). Rubbing here and there, I check every possible area and feel every possible dent, rise, mound, rib and space. But this breast is bumpy – it’s a dense breast; bumpy is the natural state. So what am I looking for? What would be different last night from yesterday morning, or the day before, or the day before?
But all this rubbing spreads the itch and now I see red marks. Red marks. ‘RASH!’ I think to myself. (or was it all that rubbing?) Checking this morning I can spot a spot here or there, but then again, I can spot a spot all over my body. It’s not hard to find panic signals when you’re desperately looking for them.
Therefore, my panic tail spins and I am convinced it’s a reoccurrence. I want to cry and hide and scream and crumple. It’s now about midnight and the house is silent, everyone is sleeping. What to do? GOOGLE!
So on goes the computer and my fingers start tapping in key words: itchy nipple. Erect nipple. Rash on nipple. Itchy nipple erect rash.
Breast cancer breast cancer breast cancer.
This is not helping me sleep. Instead my mind is turning in circles. My baseline fear of reoccurrence has suddenly jumped from here to HERE. I’m just fucking scared.
But what can you do in the middle of the night, head exhausted, nipple itchy, no one to talk to? Well, all I could do was write Zsolt an email and say exactly how I felt, exactly what I was seeing, and exactly how freaking crazy this was becoming.
It is crazy – crazy that fear is so gripping. Before I’d heard that people often become paranoid, hypochondriacs to some degree, following a battle with cancer. Every ache, scratch, fever, or itchy nipple is a symptom. How long does it take for this fear to stop?
Eventually I fell asleep, and first thing the following morning marched upstairs to my parents room and had my Mom look over the breast. She checked it out, talked me down, and reassured me this is probably an overreaction. This soon after chemotherapy it is unlikely I’d have a tumour developed within my breast.
Today I’m calmer (following some quality family time), but nevertheless battered from my crazy night. Come next Tuesday I’ll be meeting with Dr Canada, so maybe he can take a look and provide an expert opinion. And Zsolt says that if I keep being stressed we can visit the doctor in England to get an ultrasound arranged. After all, peace of mind is wonderful for one’s health.
Peace of mind. It sounds lovely. Another thing on my ‘cancer recovery list’ is peace of mind. Maybe I’ll even write it twice: Peace of mind, and more peace of mind. It’s worth a double helping.