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"This coward called Cancer, doesn't know yet, but he messed with the wrong person!!"
Ineke Roelfsema - Haarlem 2004

February 26 - 2004

Rush..... rush........ one arm in my coat, slippery corners, out of breath, emergency stop....... "Doctor, am I in time for the operation????"

This is what crossed my mind when asked to come early at the day of the operation. Although single with no family, I need some time in the morning to get ready for a week off. Cats well looked after and ready for my friend Lena who looks after them, a dog walk and the dog to Mum. My little bird Fluffy to Mum, (no worries about Chicken Osk..... sniff..... he died a few days earlier), all the pet food enough to cover a longer period when necessary, the house clean and tidy, clean bedding and last but not least, me: presentable enough to go out, my suitcase packed. Therefor I asked the hospital if it was alright to arrive the afternoon before and to use the hospital as some sort of temporary B&B to get some rest and to relax as I worked my normal hours at the company. They agreed, very understanding nurses. Yteke, a friend in the village took me to the hospital after I spent some time with Mum who was not the happiest person in the world!

At the hospital I had to check in. I was told the room number and "bed 1, no.... eh.... sorry, bed 2!"Which reminded me of the cabins at the Ferry to Hull so asked the lady: "Is this the upper or the lower part of the Bunk Bed???" She looked at me and replied: "but Maam, we dont have Bunk Beds in the hospital !!!"No sense of humour though.

I said goodbye to Yteke, went for a blood test, walked to the ward, reported myself and had to wait for a short while for the intake. Everybody was really nice but too caring for my taste. But soon they got used to me and this time everybody had the right sense of humour. What a relief.

I shared the room with an elderly lady, 'cheerful' as she called her self, but complaining about many things, and all without a reason as I found out later! Just spoilt. I put up all the get well cards I already received at home, unpacked my suitcase and settled down. Just in for an hour I already received the first flowers!!! A beautiful huge bouquet from one of the clients from work. Everybody walked in the days after, to have a look at it, so special! Later that afternoon the Surgeon did see me, asking me why I was here already. Explained it to him and he smiled as he thought the hospital made a mistake with the date. But no, no such thing. I walked around, read my book, did my crossword, enjoyed my meal and felt really good, like being on holiday!! One of the other specialists I see (not too often and I order the medication for my bowl by e-mail, reporting about my well being at the same time) arrived during the evening and sat on my bed, being a caring doctor, like he always is. Then bedtime, ofcourse I refused a sleeping tablet, as usual and as expected, I slept very well.

The next morning they told me that the operation was scheduled between 12 AM and 4 PM. When later then 12, I could eat some toast and drink a cup of tea. That was nice!! One thing I dont like is skipping breakfast. Indeed I had tea and toast and doing my crosswords, I waited for the Op. They collected me at 1 PM (without pre-medication, my free choice) and when arriving at the theatre, there was a very nice nurse, chatting away about e.g. Scandinavia. She talked Danish and I talked Swedish which was fun, we did understand eachother very well. I asked her if it was possible to take some of the cancer tissue home. I was very interested to see how it looked like. So I did with the head of the Femur the year before. Not at all surprised she told me it could be very difficult as the specimen was going to the pathologist in a different town and it could take lots of paperwork. "Wait for the Surgeon and we ask him". So we did and he looked shocked! His eyebrows went high up! He thought it was very strange and not at all possible due to the paperwork. "And what are you going to do with it???? Putting it on top of the cupboard???" Yes doctor, together with the head of the femur, the rat and the chicken samples...." He shook his head. "Doctor" the nurse said : "Just my own personal thought, but can we show her the tissue before we send it??" The answer was clear: "I am not going to tow around specimens!"

The Op. took one and a half hour, the first time I woke up was when arriving at the recovery room, in a lot of pain and got a morphine shot. The next time was 4.15 PM, fully awake and no pain. Then they took me back to the ward. The turning to get the bed in the room made me "car sick" but that was all. Fortunately I was allowed to drink and eat, my stomach felt so very empty! Half an hour later I was doing my crosswords again, feeling great. The biggest surprise was that I could move my arm so well!! Ofcourse some restrictions, but not at all as bad as I was told! Whoopee!

Mum and a friend arrived at 7 PM, expecting a pale and hardly able to move Ike. But there I was, waving with my left arm, happy to see them and chatting as usual. (Have to admit it takes a full sedation to keep me from talking.) Mum was so relieved! During the day I received more cards and flowers. The room looked like a flower shop. Friends came to visit me: Ineke, Bert, Jelma, Stehanie, and I received lots of phonecalls.

Since then I felt better and better, did not need any painkillers (no wonder, they cut through all the nerves in that area), my drains did well and I was up the next morning (Friday), helping to make the bed as I got bored already! The Surgeon even told me that I was allowed to go home on Sunday when one drain could be removed. "Think about it." he said. Think about it????????? One big smile I can tell you!

Dressed and well, I walked around in the hospital, read books, chatted with my neighbour and exercised my arm. The Physio Therapist who came to see me when I was trying hard to get my shoes on, holding on to the drip supporter, was the same who saw me after the hip replacement. He laughed, not at all surprised about the quick recovery. He talked me through all the restrictions with my arm now missing the nodes (they found and removed 15), such as: moving but not overdoing it, not lifting heavy goods, not making the same moves all the time, no hot shower or bath, all to avoid Lymph Oedemia. On Saturday another Surgeon told me one drain could be removed on Sunday and I was free to go. Sunday the nurse showed me some temporary protheses I could choose from and discussed how to behave at home to avoid producing too much fluid. Finally at 2 PM the Surgeon removed one drain and wished me well. I phoned Mum who would tell Stephanie I was ready to go home. Half an hour later Steph arrived, I said goodbye to everybody, loaded all my flowers on top of a wheelchair (even had to return for a second time) and off I went, back home............

Now, 2 months later, I feel very well, never had any wound pain and it is healing very quickly. Lost some fluid for quite a while and returned to the hospital three times a week for punctions after I lost the drain during my sleep, but this went well in no time. Still a bit "swollen" because of some Lymph fluid, but this will disappear slowly. After two weeks I went back to work, almost hugged to death by happy colleagues.

I am doing very well as you can read in my news letters, very, very thankful I got rid of the cancer so quickly. No mental problems about missing a breast because when you have the choice between staying alive with one breast or dying ungracefully with two, the choice is not too difficult! After all, it was not a breast Cup B anymore, it was Cancer Cup B!!

Last but not least a huge thank you to all the hospital staff that looked and still looks after me so well: Dr. Van der Meylen, Dr. Verhoeff, Dr. Looyen, Dr. Van Kamp, Wijkje, Truus, Djoekie, Renske, Jannie, Maarten, the nurses at the ward, the operation team, the recovery team, the lab, the cleaning staff, the kitchen staff and many others as I would hate to forget some one.

I know............ I dont mention my friends and colleagues.......... well not at this page though!

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