A funny thing happened on the way to getting my next book to publication. Well, maybe not in a tickle-your-funny-bone kind of way, more a peculiar case of life imitating art.
It was July of 2018 and I’d just handed in the first draft of my upcoming book, One Summer Between Friends, and giddy with relief and the pressing need to catch up on life, the universe and everything I’d been neglecting for way too many months, I set about tackling the round of duties and appointments I’d been putting off. The usual but necessary stuff. Like taxes. The dentist. Along with dealing with the pink Breastscreen reminder that had been sitting on my desk glaring at me. Given one of my character’s brush with breast cancer in the book, there was a reason I wasn’t going there while writing it. I didn’t want to jinx myself.
When the “possible abnormality” recall notice arrived a week or so after my screen, I was more than a little miffed. It was my eighth mammagram after the seven before had come back clear, and I had no lumps or bumps to suggest anything was wrong. I was determined to be in and out of that appointment in no time. I wasn’t. A double biopsy followed and a week later came a diagnosis of DCIS – Ductal Carcinoma in Situ.
What followed was referral to a surgeon, an MRI, a lumpectomy, and the follow up radiotherapy course to blast any of those remaining little suckers into kingdom come. With complications, the whole experience took around 7 months and was a steep learning curve, and certainly more a pain in the proverbial than any kind of “journey”, but I was lucky that it was caught early which meant I dodged the chemo bullet, and for that I will always be grateful to Australia’s Breastscreen program for all those free regular screening mammograms. Far better to deal with anything before it becomes something a whole lot more sinister.
Readers often ask how much hands on research is needed to write a book, and whether it’s okay to use the internet rather than going somewhere or experiencing something for yourself. I’ve always said the internet is great, but that nothing beats being there. But never once had I expected to experience breast cancer for myself. Hands on research. You can’t beat it. Though if I’m going to tempt fate, next time I might just write me a book about a woman winning the lottery…
That’s a lot of women.
Should you be worried? No.
Should you be scared? No.
Should be aware? YES!
Breast cancer, despite that dreaded C word, is not something necessarily to be feared. Sure it’s inconvenient if it happens – when is any health event convenient? – but detect it early and deal with it in its early stages, and you save you, and your loved one, a whole lot more potential grief.
Look at your friends and family around you and ask yourself, isn’t that worth it?
Go get tested.