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Final preparations

Tonight I launch my pamphlet Breastless (Pighog Press) – a selection of eleven of the Self-portrait without Breasts poems alongside some of Laura Stevens’ photos, together with an article by Gareth Evans on the science of hereditary breast cancer.

Five years ago I was in the last few weeks of preparing for surgery.

24 Nov, 2006

Last week had appt with Genetic Counsellor. Last minute stuff. Was told they can now test for the other 25% of BRCA genes for which our family genetic material has taken many years to be tested up to 75%, and they can also test much more quickly for other changes in the genes. After appt they phoned me to say it takes 3 weeks to test for big changes in genes, 8 months for whole screening. They are only offering this new stage of testing to people who specifically ask and come back to them because they are contemplating some big decision… So what am I to do? If the cancer in our family is genetic (and they think it is, though without proof as yet) then I have 50/50 chance of carrying gene. If I have gene, I have 85% chance of getting breast cancer, if I don’t carry gene, I have the ‘normal’ risk in the population, ie 10%. So the idea of me having the 40% chance of getting breast cancer that some have quoted to me is impossible. It is a fiction. I EITHER have an 85% chance OR a 10% chance. We may never know. Russian Roulette. I will go ahead with surgery.

Apparently I need to have one last screening: mammogram and ultrasound, before the op. That begins to make me feel involved in the anxiety cycle again. Will they find something? Will that mean I’ve left this preventive surgery too late? Helpful in an odd way to feel this anxiety return as it reinforces my decision.

I have taken advice from a good homeopath recommended by Guys. I should do some immunity work prior to surgery.  Loads of green veg, water, sleep and visualisation of a speedy recovery.  Also a good multi vit. And she advises taking Calendula and Arnica. Calendula about a week before surgery in a 30c potency. It is a general wound healer and immune system support.  Keep taking it for a couple of weeks afterwards. After surgery so long as I’m not on any blood thinning medication, I can take Arnica 30c three times a day for a week to help with the trauma to the soft tissue.  This will also help with any swelling or bruising. Then Thiosiniminum 9c twice a day to help prevent excessive scar tissue. If I feel emotional after the surgery I can use Ignatia 30c to help with grief and shock.  

On the psychological side, I’m beginning to internalise and accept the imminent changes. This will help with the adaptation after surgery. The more confident I am with my new shape, the more comfortable those around me will be.

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About Clare Best

I am Clare Best – poet, writer, teacher of creative writing. My first career was as a fine bookbinder. I've also worked as a bookseller, and for many years as an editor. Poetry publications: Treasure Ground (HappenStance 2009), Excisions (Waterloo Press 2011), Breastless (Pighog Press 2011), CELL (Frogmore Press 2015), Springlines (Little Toller 2017)

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