I’m the kind of person who can start watching a sad movie half way through and be in floods of tears ten seconds later. So there were always going to be lots of tears around a diagnosis of breast cancer.
I was diagnosed just before we were due to go on holiday, to Greece. The consultant told us to go ahead with the trip if we thought we could manage emotionally. I didn’t really consider not going as we all – our two teenage boys especially – had been looking forward to it so much. My husband told me later he had serious doubts but kept them to himself.
We decided not to tell the boys until after we got back, and set off.
It was a fantastic holiday but during the first few days I’d well up at the drop of a hat. Just looking at my husband or the boys asking a question about the future was enough to set me off. And you’d be amazed how often they ask about the future. “Will you be working from home when we get back or will you be going in to the office?” “Can I have a party in September?” “Are we going skiing next year?” And there were lots of questions about the London to Brussels bike ride that I’d been due to do in September and that I knew I wouldn’t now be doing.
A couple of days in we managed to relax… until the last couple of days when I got very tearful again, thinking about what we were going back to.
Keeping it from the boys was hard. I did have to wander off quickly or bury my head in my Kindle quite often. Telling them beforehand would have ruined the holiday for all of us. Also, we had an important appointment with the consultant the day after we got back where we were to get lots of information and I didn’t want to tell the boys and not be able to answer their questions. I knew I’d cry telling them. That was a given; I cried even at the thought of telling them. I was ending their innocence. My feelings of guilt and sadness over that were sometimes almost overwhelming.
I cried telling my boss at work; I cried telling my deputy; and I cried telling other close colleagues. I cried telling friends. Each time I did deep breathing exercises beforehand and practised what I’d say and was convinced I’d be fine but it was no use. I think I managed to hold it together when I told my mum and dad and my five brothers but that might not be true.
I have a feeling I’d better get used to it. But that’s ok. There really is nothing wrong with crying.