You might be forgiven for thinking I'd gone back to school and this blog title was my GCSE results.
Thankfully not, I have been occupied with far more interesting, exciting and somewhat scary things over the last few months.
Buckle up dear reader because never was a lyric so fitting as: 'life is a roller coaster, just gotta ride it' ...
B1 is for Bus - our beloved Eileen is no longer our full time permanent home. She is parked up nearby, slightly neglected and emptier than she has been for 18 months. Not as empty as I would like however as she has been host to a few cute but unwanted visitors. Yes we've had some mice come to stay, an occupational hazard when you live in the country. Humane traps and tracker bars dipped in fake nutella seem to have done the trick and Mickey, Minnie, Miranda and Marcel have all been kindly released - several miles down the road!
B2 is for Boat - EXCITING!!! In early December an opportunity arose for us to acquire Midnight Blue a 57' narrowboat build in '97 on a residential mooring in exactly the right location for us. Beautifully appointed with a woodburning stove, fitted kitchen, gallons of hot water and an oven (not to mention the pub 5 minutes walk away) all we needed was our toothbrushes, pyjamas and clean pants to make ourselves at home!
The December snow fall delayed our move from Bus2Boat so we still had the extreme challenge of temps down at -7 in Eileen and being snowed in for several days.
Our first 3 weeks on Midnight temps didn't get much above freezing. Keeping the boat warm end to end is harder than the bus but the stove makes up for that. The oven has also seen a great deal of pizza action!
B3 is for Boobs - well, specifically one boob that has been misbehaving. So it seems that turning 50 isn't just about jacking it in, packing it up and heading into the sunset on an epic adventure.
Luckily for me it also means a whole raft of mid-life health checks. Having done eyes and teeth and had wrist pain diagnosed as osteo-arthritis I duly trotted off for my first ever mammogram. A week later I received a recall asking me to come back for another look. The letter was very simply written and included reassuring statistics about how many women are recalled for innocent anomalies.
Not for a single second did I think I would not be in that bracket - I absolutely believed that all this was because I'd forgotten not to put deodrant on that day.
It was quite a big shock to be told I was to have a biopsy for a large and very serious growth that had shown up on the x-ray.
Which brings me to the 'C?' of this blog title.
The question mark is both excellent and frightening at the same time. Excellent because without the mammogram there is absolutely no way I would have known I had a tumour - and believe me I check. Frightening because exactly how serious it is yet to be 100% confirmed.
After the first biopsy I was given some great news, the initial results showed that the carcinoma had not infiltrated my lymph nodes and appeared not to have invaded any surrounding tissue.
I was called back 2 days before Christmas for another biopsy - a big badass of a biopsy to remove much more tissue for testing. This was an intense experience, sat bolt upright in a chair with my boob squashed between two metal plates whilst a large tube was inserted under ultrasound. Many tissue samples were taken whilst the loveliest of nurses held my hand and distracted me.
In our adult lives it is so very rare to be in a position where we are physically restrained - it was unpleasant in the extreme. At the same time it was the most incredibly uplifiting experience too.
The nurses, the equipment, the hospital, the NHS, the procedure were all there just for me that day. Just to focus 100% on giving me the absolute best chance of treatment for this tumour. As much as I was uncomfortable and struggling by being so restricted I also felt humbled and immensley grateful that this tumour had been found so early and that treatment was coming so quickly.
I was told the results would be available in the new year, that surgery was a given and depending on that result further treatment or surgery may or may not be required.
It was two days before Christmas and I had not told any family - I didn't want to frighten Tabitha or worry my mum and step-dad or my sister, nephew and niece. I didn't have any facts and I needed time to absorb the situation for myself.
Christmas and New Year were lovely, a mixture of family and new found friends that we have made in the local home ed community.
My results appointment was January 3rd and the news remained positive - the additional tissue samples continued to indicate all the nasties were still contained within the lump.
Time to tell the family which was both a relief and un-imaginably hard - especially telling Tabitha who was understandably upset and worried. I am so grateful that I was able to temper the bad news with the very positive diagnosis - I really can't over state how lucky I am that this has been picked up early.
So, as I had been advised at that first biopsy surgery to remove the lump was to be the treatment plan. A few days later I met my surgeon and a date was set.
So, now it's the eve of surgery day and finally I have felt the urge, the need and the ability to write the blog that has been bubbling around my brain since early December.
I am tucked up in bed at the family home ready for an early start in the morning - I am due at the hospital for 8am. It's a day surgery so hopefully I won't be hanging around too long in the morning and will be home by tea time! The offending misbehaving lump of boob will be sent off for full and final analysis and I will have the results in a couple of weeks - if all of it is removed and there is no indication that the surrounding tissue has been invaded then it's a big fat thumbs up good to go result! If not then it may be necessary to go to Battle Station Stage 2 but I am confident that won't be the case!
The next few days will likely be a bit uncomfortable and I'm not yet sure how limited and restricted I will be in terms of discomfort and driving etc. What I do know is that I will be well looked after and comfortable as possible at home with Mum and Brian until I am ready to get back to Midnight Blue.
I am very hopeful and positive that this surgery will get all the nasties in one hit and I will not need any further treatment. So in a lot of ways I think tomorrow will be the end of a pretty scary episode but at the same time I feel it's also the start of a shift in me. As cliche as it is, health scares like this truly do open your eyes and alter your perspective, bring you up short and reap great change forcing you to evaluate where you're at.
I am not good at being vulnerable, I am not good at asking for help tho I hope I am gracious in receiving it! However, I am humbled by the help, support and love I have been shown by those who have been on this journey with me to date.
Family, friends old and new, online and in real life I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
Leaving aside the fact that it's all a bit crap, it could be so much worse and I feel exceedingly lucky that this has been caught so very early!
Watch this space for an update as soon as I am able, hopefully tomorrow evening.
Big love people - travel far and wide and treasure the wonders of the world near and far.
Driver & Author