Girl On Top (Part 2) – Getting Away From It All

Sunscreen.  Shorts.  Shades.  I was packing, ready for my imminent trip to Singapore.  The thought of my potentially life-changing operation was a million miles away.

Since being diagnosed with breast cancer a month earlier, my world had shifted slightly, but not completely.  I was still determined to get on with my dream and future plans as best I could.  Quite a few of my friends and close family had discouraged me from making the trip; they felt that I should have the operation as soon as the remainder of my test results came through.  But I was too stubborn.  I didn’t want to throw away the chance of a lifetime in exchange for a waiting game.  It wasn’t as if I was ignorant about the impact that cancer can have though; far from it in fact.

When I was 13, my mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer and, three years later, she died at the age of 45.  My first assumption on first being diagnosed myself, was that it was genetic.

After being referred from my GP to a breast cancer consultant, I didn’t know exactly what to expect.  My first meeting with him and my assigned breast cancer nurse, produced mixed feelings in me: in many ways I was made to feel like a naive, young girl, who didn’t know her body well enough to recognise what a change in it felt like.  To begin with, he asked me where exactly I thought the lump was, which sounded incredulous to me at the time.  After examining my breast, his reaction changed and he immediately recommended a mammogram and ultrasound (which confirmed the lump).  A week later, an ensuing biopsy showed 3 grade cancer cells, which were both aggressive and fast growing.

My surgeon then recommended that I should have a gene test at Guy’s Clinic in London, due to my family history.  The results of this would dictate whether my operation would be a lumpectomy or a double mastectomy.

A lot has been written over the past couple of years about genetic testing, in the wake of Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, sparked by her testing positive for the ‘bad gene’ (the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene).  It is, and will continue to be, a contentious issue, which divides opinion and fuels debate.  However, it was clear to me that, if my test came back positive and I was carrying the gene, a double mastectomy would be my personal choice.  From a purely aesthetic point of view, it was not something that I wanted, but neither did I want to live my life with a virtual clock ticking over my head, reminding me that the return of a tumour could be just one mammogram away.

My trip to Asia was an amazing one and was probably the best thing that could have happened,  given the circumstances.  Not only did I fulfill my career ambitions (if only for a short amount of time), but I also met some truly incredible people there, who will be my friends for life.  One of my besties flew all the way over from the UK to spend time with me, which was a great support, and we travelled to Malaysia together.   Back in Singapore, I realised just how much I had fallen in love with the culture and the people.  The city was stunning and both clean and safe – in short, a total dream to work and live in.  I tried to visit as many places as possible and explore the city and night-life, knowing at the back of my mind that I might not be able to return my dream destination again.

In the second week of my stay in Asia, the email arrived with the results of my gene test.  It was negative.  I wasn’t carrying the ‘bad gene’.  It wasn’t genetic and I wouldn’t have to have a double mastectomy.

On arrival of the exciting news, I was out for dinner and drinks with a newly acquainted friend, who knew nothing of my condition.  My amazement of the test being negative spilled over and I couldn’t hide the fact that I was incredibly relieved and wanted to share it.  I felt as if I didn’t have to hide my cancer anymore, or make excuses as to why I was only in Singapore for a short amount of time.  I also hadn’t wanted pity, or for people to feel sorry for me; I didn’t feel sorry for myself, so I definitely didn’t want others to feel that way about me.

Back on the plane, bound for Heathrow, my mood changed.  Sadness and tears suddenly filled me – I regretted having to leave this beautiful country, the job that I loved and the friends that I’d met.  I had been made to feel completely welcome there and so at home, that I could have happily stayed on for another month, or year, or even longer.  But I was going back home to the cold, British winter.  I was also going home to my old friends, family and Christmas.  I was returning to my operation and, after that, a new year and a new start.  I’d turn a corner and begin afresh.  I would go back to Singapore one day, I knew it, and I would do everything in my power to keep that dream alive.

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5 thoughts on “Girl On Top (Part 2) – Getting Away From It All”

  1. It is so powerful to read about your thoughts and feelings in this retrospective light, thank you so much for sharing. By you taking this courageous step to document your ups and downs along this unplanned detour that you have travelled along with such spirit and determination, it will help us – as your support gang – to keep you motivated and strong as you continue your journey in remaining Girl On Top. Love you xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dearest Laura thank you for sharing your innermost feelings which will hopefully help us give you the support you really need without making a pigs ear of things! Please continue keeping this blog for as long as you want or don’t want. I truly admire you for your great strength and courage.
    Txxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cancer affects all of us, whether you’re a daughter, mother, sister, friend, coworker, doctor, or patient. My childhood friend Laura fight with metastatic breast cancer. It’s weird to say that her cancer has been an eye opening to me and to my close people. It has enabled me to understand so much more about life, about myself, and about people near me. And now I want to share her remarkable, blazing blog about her breast cancer, the long fight that will leave you with the goos bumps. PLEASE SHARE! Laura you are extraordinary, wonderful person. Don’t give up, keep kicking!

    Liked by 1 person

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