• Bridget Prideaux

There are some dates we never forget...

There are some dates that we never forget. Some are happy occasions, and make us smile,

and others remind us of how quickly our lives can be turned upside down and never quite

return to normal (whatever that is!).

Friday August 3rd 2012 early in the morning was when my life changed. As so many ladies do

I noticed that something was amiss in my left breast whilst taking a shower. My GP also

happened to be a close friend, and without hesitation he urged me to rush to the surgery

before normal appointments started.

A trip to the Olympic Games the next day was unforgettable for different reasons. We

travelled first class and drank champagne at Paddington Station. The sun shone, and all

around us people were smiling and happy – it was Super Saturday – the day when ‘our’

sportspeople won so many medals.

Ten days later things were so very different. I went to my appointment alone – after all, my husband had a busy day of patients booked (we are both dentists) and I wouldn’t want them to be inconvenienced for something that was merely a quick check. Nothing was really going to be seriously amiss….was it?

I had always attended my mammograms regularly. Having had a benign breast lump

removed some seventeen years earlier I had been called in for these checks at a much

younger age than normal, and they certainly didn’t worry me. I wasn’t quite prepared for

the look of alarm on the radiographers face as she checked the screen…..and then quickly

turned it off as she realised I had seen that cloudy mass in the middle of my left breast.

The rest of the morning was a blur of checks and re-checks, with other patients arriving,

being seen and leaving. Eventually I was the last patient in the waiting area, and I was

invited in to see the senior radiologist. I wondered if all consultants had a nurse sitting by

their side…and did they all have a box of tissues within easy reach? Did that piece of yellow

paper the nurse was holding have any significance? Was it for me?

“I may as well be straight with you, Mrs Prideaux. I’m 80% sure that you have a fairly

sizeable tumour which is going to need some serious treatment.”

So there we have it. I had joined the club of those with cancer. My ‘normal’ life had ended, and the series of treatments would start. The secret was known only to me, the consultant and the nurse. How do I tell my husband, my family and my parents what they are about to experience?