I couldn’t sleep at all after the operation. General anaesthetics always make me hyper and hospitals are a constant hive of activity, even in the early hours. I got them to take my catheter out at 4am and went for a little stroll around the ward, just to stretch my legs and back. I was expecting to feel so lost and lonely and empty after the op, but I didn’t at all. I felt fierce and empowered and lucky to live in a country where we have a health service that can offer patients an informed choice about the best course of treatment available to them.
As if I needed confirmation of this, when I got back in bed and scrolled through my newsfeed, I saw a breast cancer blog relating to the Lancet’s July 2015 report on how tamoxifen is set to be replaced by aromatise inhibitors as a more effective course of treatment in post menopausal women. This is exactly why I had the surgery, because once my ovaries are removed and the surgical menopause is complete in about six months, I can switch from tamoxifen to an AI, and this decreases my risk of a recurrence even more than on tamoxifen. I do enjoy a little bit of synchronicity.
The operation was a complete success. I have three small holes in my tummy – one in my belly button and two at the sides – and lots of internal stitches. They kept impressing on me in hospital not to do too much too soon because I’ve had major surgery, and the small holes are a misleading indication of how much has been done inside.
All my worries about things being different, perhaps not being able to enjoy sex, not feeling like a complete woman were gone when I woke up in the recovery ward. If anything, the fact I can make these choices about my own treatment makes me more of a woman than I ever was before. And boy do I feel fierce. I could take on the world at the moment but I’m not going to because I need to rest and recuperate, and this time I certainly don’t intend on seeing how far I can push myself and how quickly. I am lucky to be surrounded by supporting, loving and caring people who are going out of their way to make sure I have the best recovery possible, I don’t intend to mess things up by trying to get back to normal life too quickly.
And these people, God but I am lucky. My mum has brought all her stuff and moved in for six weeks to look after me and the kids. Nate has taken a week off work as holiday to help with Ava. I have friends taking holiday to look after me when my mum has to work, family coming down from Nottingham to help out, friends coming to visit, people filling in so my mum can have a couple of days off, the kids are doing loads around the house, Holly is balancing A level studies with extra washing up and caring for me… I am humbled by the actions of others and don’t have the space in my life to worry about whether or not the removal of my uterus makes me less of a woman. I’ve given myself the best possible chance for a future with my children, my family and my crazy beautiful friends, and I feel really fucking good about that.