What would be the first thing that you do, after receiving the news that would change your life forever?
The first thing Annet did, was call her sister from the car on the way home.
Her sister knew about the appointment and what Annet was facing that day.
Then, once she arrived home, she walked to her parents' house to tell them personally. This... she found the hardest. Her parents are quite old and no parent.... would want to see their children ill...
She then called her other sister, brother in-law and all of her friends.
It seems to me that when facing something this big, that the planning of what needs to happen next (informing everyone, what the treatment plan was, preparing those around you before you even think of yourself) is almost an 'auto pilot' way of dealing with what is happening. Where does one really begin?....
Annet said that she did not know how to inform her son and she did not want to upset him at work so she did not call him. But... whilst she was wondering how to break the news to him, he called her, which made it easier for her to tell him about what was going on...
When I asked Annet how this all made her feel? She told me that it was all so surreal... It felt like she was talking about someone else. She can recall her parents being really upset and having to comfort them. They were also concerned about the wedding of their oldest grandson (which was coming up).
They must have been struggling to face the idea of celebrating whilst facing news of their daughter being ill. But, in true Annet style, she managed to comfort them, tell them that everything was going to be ok and promised that she would be celebrating with her parents on this joyous day.
Throughout the whole process (and still) Annet has done her best to comfort others and tell them that everything was going to be ok and that she will recover fully. This is exactly what she told her son and his girlfriend when they came to visit that night.
Annet said that she was humbled by all the people who came to see her that night. She has always felt very loved and supported.
I think that for others to be positive, it has helped Annet stay positive.
The week after Annet had received the news, she returned to the hospital for a MRI scan. Her results were available the next day...
Annet was informed by the Surgical Oncologist that chemo would be necessary and possibly radiation later. There would be a more detailed discussion on Annet's treatment plan the following day after which Annet would be informed by telephone of the outcome.
An appointment was made for Annet to speak to a Medical Oncologist who would discuss the chemo therapy with her - the types and the cures.
The next day, the Surgical Oncologist telephoned Annet to inform her that they would start with chemo and then after the chemo, they would operate.
During Annet's meeting with the Medical Oncologist, Annet was informed that the operation would limit the chance of the cancer returning later. Annet's biggest question to the doctor was whether she could be cured.
The Medical Oncologist told her they they are of the opinion that Annet could absolutely be cured! Annet said that this was the hardest question to ask but the best answer she could imagine and one... that would keep her going and keep her positive throughout the whole process!
Annet had the chance to ask all the questions she had (at that stage). She was informed that she would indeed loose her hair... which she was so hoping would not happen, but this was just something that she had to deal with... one day at a time...
Firstly, her sentinel node had to be removed. This is the lymph node closest to the tumour. If the cancer had not spread to there, then the other lymph nodes would be clean too. This procedure was planned for June 2015.
After her appointment with the Oncologist, Annet was able to see an Oncologist Nurse. The nurse explained what Annet could expect from the treatment. Annet said that she could ask the nurses any questions throughout the treatment and that they were always her first point of contact. She felt that she has had amazing support from the nurses, throughout the whole process and that they were very approachable.
Now that her treatment plan was in place and her family and friends were informed, I asked Annet how she felt?
She told me yet again that the whole process was unreal...
"Even though I was living it... It was still as if all of this was happening to someone else."
She found it difficult to explain... but said that she felt 'determined' to do whatever it took to get better!
She knew and believed... that everything was going to be ok...
A week after the 'Sentinel Node Procedure', chemo would begin...
Annet decided to just take the whole process one day at a time... She wanted to keep working so had to see what she would still be able to do. She gave workshops in skincare and knew that this would be more difficult to do, but still wanted to keep in touch with her colleagues and clients so she wanted to 'stay in the loop' and do what she was able to.
One thing that Annet was incredibly thankful for and could not stop talking about... was the amount of support which she has had from the beginning.
Whether it was cards, flowers, messages or someone coming for a quick visit to just give her a hug... it was all equally important to help keep her mind strong throughout this whole process over the past year.
She wanted to give a special thanks to her sister and friends who were ALWAYS there when she needed them!
Never underestimate the power of letting someone you care for... know that you are thinking of them...