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Archive for January, 2011

>Finding solace in the woods- Silent Sunday

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Silent Sunday

One picture, no words. Pop over to Mocha Beanie Mummy for more…

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>Ninjas – The Gallery

>It’s Gallery time again. The theme is Children – I can’t wait to see the photographs submitted.

I’ve picked these two ninjas. The curly boy is O and the lovely girl is Laura from Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy‘s 6yo. We were camping in the Lakes and the children were ninjaing wildly by the side of a beautiful lake…

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>BRCA1, BRCA2 or none at all? Me and Doreen…

>I never met my great grandmother, Doreen. She died before I was born, a big, happy woman, but troubled with some ill health. My dad’s beloved gran, he always speaks so fondly of her – she was Mop, and his eyes shine and he smiles as he mentions her. Mum and Dad have a photograph of Doreen up on the wall. She’s young, in her late teens, dressed up in a frilly dress and bloomers, with a bonnet and parasol – and the very strange thing is she looks like me. Even the same expression. How funny that you can look at a picture of someone you never knew and see yourself staring back.

Legacy, likeness, family trees, the past – how these things have whirled around in my head these past two weeks. I look at the picture of Doreen and I wish I could speak to her. We have more in common than our wayward dark curls, brown eyes and smiles (and love of frilly parasols).

Doreen was 34 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was 1939. In those days, the treatment for breast cancer was brutal. A radical mastectomy, lymph nodes and muscles out from under the arm and I imagine some horrendous radiation treatment too, although that is conjecture on my part as Dad doesn’t know. He remembers her terrible scars though and the fact that she couldn’t play the piano due to the pain and constricture of that scarring. I have thought a lot about Doreen since I was diagnosed at 33 – did she feel the same fear that I felt? What was her experience all those years ago? Doreen beat her cancer and carried on with life. She died of something completely unrelated at the age of 68. I have often looked at her photograph and smiled – she was a survivor, she was a talisman.

When you are diagnosed with breast cancer at a relatively young age, it is suggested that you investigate the possibility of a hereditary link, a genetic thread running through the generations. I had my clinical genetics appointment on the 13 January. I knew about my great gran’s breast cancer, but she is the only other sufferer apart from me in my entire family. I expected to be told that it was just one of those things, random, just chance – all the things that people have been telling me since that fateful day back in 2007.

The shocking reality for me is that because Doreen had breast cancer at 34 and there are only males in the direct line between me and her (my grandad and my dad), two genetic consultants have put me in the high risk category for having a genetic cause for my breast cancer and I have some stark and difficult choices ahead.

It is possible that I carry either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, which would increase the risk of my breast cancer recurring and give me an increased risk of ovarian cancer. I can decide not to have the genetic testing and take my chances or have the test and deal with the consequences of a possible positive result.

I don’t like uncertainty. I’m going to have the test. I really fear a positive result. It will mean choosing again between screening, touching wood and crossing my fingers, or preventive surgery – a double mastectomy and an oophrectomy (my ovaries removed). At the moment, I’m scared, angry, frightened, consumed once more with the overwhelming headfuck that is breast cancer. I have really had enough. Yes, actually I’m really bloody angry that it’s taking me back to hospitals and appointments and uncertainty and worrying. I was slowly getting away from all that.

But then, I know that it’s never really going to leave me anyway. This is one more obstacle in the race I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d ever have to run. I did do it once, I can do it again. It is stripping me down to the quick, but I’ve proved I can get through and smile and live. I am wounded by breast cancer – there’s no denying it’s left its mark on my mind and my life, but at the same time, what point is there in getting through if I’m going to weep and moan and give up?

So – bear with me. I am going to be a pain in the arse. I am going to cry and sulk and be a hermit. I’m also going to be a normal mother and a vaguely normal librarian. I’m also going to rail and scream and worry and fret.

I might get that negative result – I pray and pray that I do. But I look at that photo of Doreen and her parasol and all I can think at the moment is that we’re linked. Her face is my face and her genes just might be too.

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>Silent Sunday – a boy and his puppy

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Silent Sunday

Pop on over to Mocha Beanie Mummy for more quiet moments…

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>It’s time again for Tara’s Gallery.

The theme is Mother Nature and there are a wealth of posts over there with some wonderful photographs. Pop on over there for a glimpse or two…

I’ve picked this beautiful specimen, who currently resides at Tropical World in Leeds. I imagine he will divide the Gallery gang – not everyone loves a slithery sort…

I have a vivid memory of one particular day at infant school. The teacher told us we were going to have a very special visitor. Imagine the frisson of excitement and dread that ran through the class when it was revealed that the special visitor was a man. A man with a snake!

I can recall the fear I felt as I stood there in the hall with my classmates. The snake was huge and was coiled around his owner, his tongue flickering lazily in and out. We were asked if we wanted to come and touch the snake and most of us said no as we were convinced it would be slimy and cold. I don’t remember how the next bit came about, but suddenly I was stood next to the snake man and stroking the warm, dry scales of the beautiful snake and feeling utterly brave, fearless and in love. When I got home, dad got me a book on snake care down from the loft (no idea why he had it). I read this book over and over again. I must have been the only six year old in Yorkshire who knew how to milk a snake for its venom.

Ever since that landmark snake-touching day, I have been fascinated with snakes and can stand for hours watching their slightly sinister eyes and sinuous movements. I had to be physically dragged from the reptile house at Tropical World the last time we were there. I believe that M and O may both have indulged in some epic eye-rolling.

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>O, sat at the table eating his tea:

“So, first of all there was God *waves arms all around* and he created the universe and alternative universes with stars and dead stars. Then there were dinosaurs and then the meteor killed them all. Well, apart from the mammals. Then the Ice Age came and it was really cold and then people came. Then it was 1000 years later and baby Jesus was born and then people did all sorts of stuff and then 2000 years later we are here now. And that’s it.”


(Hard at work, playing Club Penguin)

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>Silent Sunday – Nostalgia

>Silent Sunday

This is my entry for Jay @ Mocha Beanie Mummy’s Silent Sunday.

Pop over there for more quiet posts. But don’t say a word…

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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