Yesterday was a better day.
Back pain was quite isolated to specific muscles low down on the left side (multifidus?) and only when I stood up for a bit, so I felt a little fear about ongoing mechanical failure in my spine but encouraged that I could move about albeit slowly.
I felt really loved and supported when Charlie turned up bright and early to accompany me to hospital to go for a breast scan and stayed with me all day.
The breast scan was clear, so no breast cancer as a primary. Don't know how to feel about that - it's always nice to know you haven't got breast cancer, but it would have been nice to have identified the primary, to have something clearly defined to fight against.
After finishing up there we went over to the Maggie's Centre, which is right next door to the breast clinic.
Maggie's is just amazing. We were warmly greeted by a counsellor and immediately escorted to a beautifully furnished room (Paul Smith throughout the place) and spent a long time there talking things through. I instantly felt supported and cared for and was pleasantly surprised to find that this is also available for my sons. I think Charlie felt better for airing some issues in a calm and supportive atmosphere. Charlie and I also spent some good time sitting chatting and felt much better for it.
The kitchen, clearly the heart of the place, was full of about 11 people with cancer. It was wonderful to be in a place where cancer is not shocking. People discussed their cancer openly and often with great humour. I drank about 4 pints of peppermint tea.
It is incredible that this place exists in this form. The advice and counselling are available whenever needed, no need to book ahead. There is a great sense of 'knowing the ropes': as a newbie to all this it is great to be able to ask someone with plenty of experience either as a support worker or with direct experience and get straight up answers that are hopeful and supportive.
The architecture and decor are wonderful too. There are airy spaces to sit and think or chat in which are elegant but comfy, light and connected to the trees around the building.
Part of the pain I have been feeling is, I believe, due to muscular spasms that are related to stress and fear. Though I have no intention of doing anything other than getting to better health than I've ever had before, death lurks in the background of anyone with cancer's thoughts, and my body reacts in alarm, tension and therefore pain. As I sat on a wooden chair at that kitchen table I realised I was not just pain free, but comfortable for the first time in a couple of weeks.