The diagnosis

When we went back for the biopsy results, part of me felt sure they were going to tell me it was cancer. But it seemed overly dramatic, so I didn’t say it out loud to anyone. Paul and I sat side by side while we waited for the doctor. ‘What do you think she’ll say?’ I asked. ‘That everything’s fine,’ he said.

We talked about stupid things, like how awful the curtains were. Paul told me he’d ordered them for every room in our house. Later, he said he’d overheard a distressed woman in the next room talking about her terminal cancer. I’d heard nothing. Maybe I just hadn’t let myself.

When the doctor came in accompanied by two other people, it was clear that it wasn’t going to be good news. They hardly needed to say that I had cancer. I was grateful that the doctor was kind and that she was pregnant, roughly as far along as me. It was reassuring, somehow.

I was sent for blood tests and asked to come back that afternoon for a mammogram and an ultrasound on my armpit, to check the lymph nodes. ‘It’s April Fools’ Day,’ I said, as we walked through the corridors. ‘Imagine if they’d started laughing and told me it wasn’t true.’

And we went home. I remember walking into our bedroom and thinking, the last time I was in this room, I didn’t know I had cancer. Things were spinning a little too fast.

It was a Friday, and Joseph and I were due to spend the weekend with my parents. Paul had some friends coming to stay. That night, we lay facing each other in bed, and he apologised for the bad timing of these plans. I told him it was ok, that we’d be together again on Sunday night. ‘And forever,’ he said.

A couple of days later, I was lying flat on my back in Joseph’s bedroom while he blew raspberries on my tummy ‘to make the baby sister laugh’. He’d just had a bath and was naked. His skin was soft against mine and we were laughing, and I felt like the luckiest person in the world.

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