Now this blog was never meant to be about my experience of breast cancer. I have great respect for those women who find writing about diagnosis, treatment and recovery in some way cathartic and who find comfort in the company of other women who have been through the same thing. It just isn’t really for me. I was diagnosed with breast cancer nearly 4 years ago in my early forties, did the whole chemo/radio thing, have been lucky enough to come through it and I can safely say it has not made me a better person, or made me appreciate life more. I was OK before I got it and as life doesn’t seem to work on the basis that you have had one shit thing to deal with so nothing else crummy will happen I struggle on as most people do, dealing with day-to-day things like ferrying kids around, shopping and trying to become a writer.
However, I cannot resist blogging about the latest instalment of my reconstruction. ‘They will rebuild me’..well Ok I am not bionic but my back is now round my front and I have just had my first ever tattoo. This is rather exciting. I have threatened to have tattoos in the past, but only really to put my daughter off piercings by threatening to have an unsuitable tattoo for every body part she stuck a spike through. Now though I have a pink nipple courtesy of the rather funky Mr McNeil at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital. To the soothing sounds of 1980′s songwriter Dean Friedman (all big eyes and curly hair and a thing about a girl called Lydia) who the well-groomed Mr McNeil seems to have followed since his youth I watched while a selection of little pots was pulled out of a trolley for all the world like I was going to have a manicure instead of a fake boob part. Apparently the equipment is the same as is used by beauticians to offer cosmetic enhancement such as lip or eye liner, but I resisted the temptation to ask for a trout pout (others have not been so shy I understand). A soothing Scots lilt asked me questions that quite took my mind off the fact that a man was using a colour chart against my nipples and measuring me up for an areola and I have ended up (after not a little discomfort and a determination never to have that dragon on my shoulder after all) with a rather pretty pink circle, currently under a layer of moisturizer and a piece of clingfilm as it heals.
Now, having cracked jokes about the Edinburgh Tattoo (sorry Mr McNeil) and considered the option to ask for a rainbow effect next appointment (believe it or not someone is having a green nipple as it is her favourite colour – good for her), I am reflecting on my good fortune. On the day after Jennifer Saunders talked for the first time about her fight against the disease and added her name to a growing list of celebs who have gone through the same experience as me I realise that the treatment for breast cancer may be painful, nasty and unremittingly scary but it is first class and everyone I have had contact with across the NHS has done everything they can to help me get over it physically and mentally and for that I am eternally grateful. Definitely something worth blogging about.