“What are you doing the 5th November?” Nothing, why?
“What do you think of a bottomless brunch? Invite your girl friends. We can celebrate you and your boobs…” *Silence*
“…I mean, you don’t need to. It was just a thought. We could just have brunch anyway. I just thought…” Katie, I LOVE it!
Not long after this call, surgery was booked for Saturday 28th October. Katie’s suggestion for the “boob voyage” wasn’t going to happen. I was secretly bummed out about it. Partly because I actually wanted to delay the surgery, but also because I loved the idea of having a celebration of my boobs…I mean, it was both ridiculous and brilliant at the same time!
Once people started finding out, everyone was going out of their way to check in on me. It was a strange feeling to be looked out for. I suddenly felt like I’d acquired all these mothers, big brothers and sisters. I adored it. I didn’t feel like I was hiding anything anymore. I felt like I could be open and honest about what was happening to me! I didn’t want to deal with awkwardness and people stepping on eggshells. I actually loved the fact that people felt comfortable talking to me about my situation; and in a strange way, it felt refreshing and therapeutic for me to talk about whatever I could without restraint. Everyone had my back!
Come mid October, I’d decided to take a week off from everything. I’d told Katy that I wanted a break from everything. I knew I’d be having surgery, I had an appointment booked with Suzy (the oncologist), and would be seeing Stuart (the gynaecologist) all within a week. I was giving myself some time to “regroup”. Basically it was a f*ck it moment. I booked a spa day at the Corinthia. I headed to Paris for the weekend. It was très manifique!
When I returned, things started getting ridiculous. I was getting regular flower deliveries at work and at home. I had enough “get well soon” cards to start up my own card shop. I was getting “well wishing” text messages several times a day. And the care packages ranged from food deliveries, to clothing, to books, to necklaces and bracelets.
Now don’t get me wrong; I’m all for gifts. I just never expected it to be at the volume that it got to. I mean, I was pretty set. I was being looked after. People were taking me out for dinner. I would feel awkward having every meal paid for, but I slowly realised it was their way of feeling they were doing “something”.
My friends continued to just fatten me up. I was eating like a queen. Lamb shank? Sure! Steak? Why the hell not! Prosecco? Of course. Another prosecco? Pfft, do you know me? It was sheer indulgence. I’m a two course kinda girl, but I started to go for three courses. I blamed the stress. Comfort eating was a must do during this period!
As surgery was around the corner, I’d decided I wanted a pretty quiet week to the lead up. It would allow me to be mentally prepared for everything. The only day I had agreed to do was dinner on a Thursday with Naomi. The rest of the time I wanted to chill, and just digest and process for the big day.
I’d had a pretty crap Wednesday. I’d met with the gynaecologist, and he’d presented the options of “not doing anything” or going through fertility treatment a week after the surgery. I was scared. I was scared about the whole idea of not being able to have kids; but also the fact it seemed so soon after surgery. In my head I thought I wouldn’t be able to do anything until a good two weeks after surgery. My body needed to recover right? I wouldn’t be able to inject hormones into myself straight after. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was doing everything that I could to delay chemo starting!
I needed a quick drink prior to dinner as I was getting overwhelmed with everything; including the sudden influx of attention from everyone. I was receiving calls from friends in Amsterdam, Sydney, Guadalupe, and various locations across the US. I couldn’t process it. I knew I was “likeable”, but I just didn’t realise the impact I had made on so many people, who were now showing me their support. It made me emotional, and Naomi could see it. I needed the offloading time, but the wine wasn’t doing me good. It was time for food!
Now, I’m all for trying out places to eat. I’m always wanting to check out X restaurant, or Y food festival, so I was up for trying something new. Naomi was in control for the evening. She had kept the dinner low key, but was suddenly going to town on what we were going to eat. We would be going to The Phene in Chelsea to try out an Autumn taster menu which would include vegan food.
As it was opening Thursday night for the new menu, the pub didn’t seem too busy; and that didn’t make sense to me. Thursday was the new Friday! Who the hell did their PR? The barman pointed us to the direction of the “club room” which was where the food would be served. The club room was on the top floor, and as soon as we reached the entrance hall, my brain began questioning things. Something felt odd.
Why were there just two coats outside on the coat hooks?
Why was the door shut?
Why was it so damn quiet?
The room seemed pretty dark from outside. Clearly sh!t PR again.
I opened the door.
There in front of me were the girls from work. Ten of them, plus Fiona. I didn’t know what was going on, but I was speechless. As the surgery had been scheduled a week earlier than planned, Naomi, Carla and several others had worked together to coordinate a “boob voyage”.
There were balloons; there were instax photos; there was a magnum of prosecco; there was AMAZING food; and there were all these girls that had come together in the space of 4 days to pull this off.
I sat there and laughed. It all made sense. The weird exchange of looks at the end of the working day. The sudden awkwardness whenever I would turn up at someone’s desk because I had nothing to do. The urgency for setting up a whatsapp group with my family in it. The weird silver balloons I saw near the club room entrance!
I sat at the end of the table; and I looked around. I didn’t care about the glass of prosecco or the food at that point. I just sat there, with tears in my eyes, because at that very moment, I realised that I wouldn’t be alone. These guys would not be going anywhere, and I couldn’t have been more happier about that.