It is the season of film and radio awards (among others) of glamorous outfits and sometimes cringey acceptance speeches. Although I still have four zaps to go, and a few 'closeout' appointments with oncologists and surgeons, it seems an opportune moment to say a few thank yous. Or thank youse for Scousers and Glaswegians who might happen by. A dangerous task - easy to miss someone and cause offence, and one where I have debated the naming of names or identifying of initials. In the end I have decided to name the key professionals cos I know someone sometime will Google them (as I did!) and refer to others obliquely.
So. Thank you to:
Dr Isabelle Cullen, my GP, whose rapid referral kick started this whole process, and her wonderful staff who have been supportive and encouraging all the way through.
Mr Chris Wilson, consultant breast surgeon, Glasgow Western Infirmary, at whose 'one stop clinic' I was diagnosed. He managed to combine simple frankness with gentleness of delivery, and was willing to spend ages answering my questions. Mr Wilson is loved by his patients, and rightly so.
Specialist Nurse Diane McLeod at GWI, who literally held my hand during the FNA and core biopsy, who has organised all the consultants and other weird appointments, gave me a chillo-pillow and is always there at the end of the phone. Calm and friendly - just what I needed at the start - and very proactive, which is good given I'm so independent!
Dr Iain MacPherson at Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, my oncologist, who as well as being rather gorgeous, is a great clinician, caring, sensitive and thorough. Like Mr Wilson, willing to answer loads of questions. Another justifiably well-loved consultant.
Specialist Nurse Lynne Stirling at the Beatson, whose advice on diet, skin and nail care proved invaluable in keeping me healthy and fit during my chemo. Very bubbly and a fount of useful knowledge.
Staff of Treatment Room 1 at Beatson's MacMillan Day Case Unit, especially Dawn, Pamela and Wendy who drugged me. Special mention for Dawn who steered me through my first treatment with skill and sensitivity and who has the ability to remember the conversation you had three weeks ago!
Mrs Eva Weiler Mithoff, consultant oncoplastic surgeon Canniesburn Unit, Glasgow Royal Infirmary who undertook my reconstructive surgery. A brilliant explainer of procedures who, by working closely with Mr Wilson carried out my reconstructive surgery concurrent with my skin sparing mastectomy (two teams working simultaneously). Objectively one of the best onco-plastic surgeons in the UK and a real champion of reconstructive surgery..
Specialist nurses Caroline Spreng and Clare South at Glasgow Royal who answered my questions, kept an eye on me during surgery and have been there in the post-op phase. Very knowledgeable and approachable, and great at calming fears.
Staff of the High Dependency Unit (Ward 48) and plastic surgery ward (ward 47) of GRI Canniesburn Unit, especially nurses Michaela, Linda and Linda in HDU who were amazing in the first 24 hours.
Staff of the Plastic Surgery outpatients who treated my seroma and checked the healing of my scars, who were offended on my behalf when people were freaked by my (then) sparse hair.
Physiotherapy team at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, especially Catriona and Barbara who showed and told me the exercise programme necessary to regain the use of my arm (and to Barbara for sharing my incredulity when a surgeon thought my arm movement wasn't good enough!).
Staff of Treatment Room B Radiotherapy at Beatson, and Anne McIntyre, specialist radiographer, who have planned and executed my treatment with good humour and tacky muzak! That and coping with a patient who understands radiation physics and wants to know exaclty what dose and where and how...
Indirectly, to the Glasgow Breast Cancer Multidisciplinary Team (including 'my' professionals) who seem to work so closely to ensure good care for their patients. It was reassuring to know each consultant knew what the others were doing and how their work fitted in.
At one remove, since not explicitly treatment, my Active ABC fitness instructor Lauren, who is knowledgeable, makes us work hard to restore fitness and is generally good fun.
Beyond the professionals
Thank you to:
My Social Secretary
My Personal Shoppers
Those who took me our for coffee
Those who invited me for meals post surgery
Everyone who sent me cards and emails
Everyone who has read this blog, and who has commented (or not)
Everyone who has thought, prayed, sacrificed chickens, crossed fingers, wished me luck
And of course, to end on a holy note...
Thank you to God who has been a faithful companion through the Gethsemane moments, through the Shadowy Valleys, up Mount Chemo, through the Surgery Forest and across the River of Radiation.
The moments of grace has been many and varied, from the location of my home 10 mins from the Beatson, to the encouraging emails and cards that arrived 'out of the blue' in my lowest moments, to the people I met in clinics and waiting rooms.
I'm not being holy, pious or Pollyanna when I say that through it all I have been blessed.