The moment when you know.

27 September 2019

I’m not sure when I knew. There was no exact, pinpointed moment; it felt like a huge dark cloud coming over me, enveloping me, for months. I just... knew. 


(Photo: Erin Veness)


I recently listened to some older episodes of Jules and Sarah’s quite brilliant podcast, Wobble. It’s a show about mental health, self care, and body positivity. The guests are incredible, too; Claudia Winkleman, Megan Crabbe (the one and only @bodyposipanda), Jamie Windust (perhaps better known as @leopardprintelephant), Lucy Sheridan (absolute angel @lucysheridan) and Lauren Mahon (blogger/social media wizard @iamlaurenmahon and also badass creator of @girlvscancer), to name a few. But the episode with the latter (hehehe) was what hit me hardest – of course, because y’know, cancer. 

I adore Lauren. She inspires me endlessly; imagine learning you had breast cancer (despite having, as Lozza says, no tits) and then not just telling your massive following on social media, and keeping them all updated throughout the journey you then go on with treatment and surgery, but ALSO creating your own business, Girl vs Cancer – oh, and then raising over £18,000 (at time of recording this podcast ep) for breast cancer charities. I mean, whut? Idol. 

Anyway, gushing over. Lauren said in the episode that she knew, as soon as they took a boob biopsy and said they’d have her results the following week, that she had cancer. She said it was horrible, because she literally went from feeling perfectly normal, the only thing out of the ordinary being a lump somewhere it really shouldn’t be... to getting slapped with the C-word and having her whole life flipped upside down. 

It made me think back to the start of my journey (god, it feels so cheesy and fluffy calling it that; it didn’t feel like an epic, colourful adventure, more like a ghost train of terror whirling through the darkness at great speed for many, many months... but 'journey' is easier to say) and I wondered when exactly I knew. Honestly, I’m not sure. But I think I can trace it back to the neurologist, saying casually as I left his office (literally, as my hand closed around the door handle) ‘Oh, we’ll book you in for a brain MRI as well. This isn’t usually how a brain tumour presents itself, but it’s worth checking just to rule it out.’ 


Then I had the words ‘brain tumour’ in my head for the following couple of weeks leading up to that impromptu, ‘just in case’ scan. I joked about it with friends (‘oh, I can’t move my arm that much. Y’know, because of my tumour. Hahaha’), but worried quietly to myself, because it made so much sense to me suddenly. I think I knew, then. Still, it wasn’t until I peeked out of the MRI (through the mirror they attached to my head brace) and saw the cluster of radiographers crowded around the computer screen, that I truly believed it. Then a day later, a specialist confirmed that there was Something There, and booked me in for an urgent consultation with a neurosurgeon. 

It was as he said 'a mass in your brain' that the most peculiar relief began to roll deeply through my whole body. Because finally, there was an answer. Finally, we knew what had to be done. Oh sure, they had no clue what exactly was lurking amongst my more normal cells, but it was a start. It was enough. 


(Photo: Erin Veness)


Can you imagine if I hadn’t had that scan booked in? If the specialist hadn’t had that impulse, at the last minute as I left his office after a good half hour of trying to hold both arms up, hand write a complete sentence, and walk down a corridor in a straight line – relatively easy tasks when you’re healthy,  but quite a bit trickier when you’ve got a tumour and cysts growing and bumping around inside your brain  who knows where I'd be now. Or what would have happened, further down the line. Of course, we're not supposed to think like that, because the important thing is something was done, and it's all okay now (sort of). Maybe it's just how my messed up brain works; I'll always wonder what could have been. I like to think my gut instinct, my inexplicable, innate knowing, would have got me to the right people and the best place in the end. And honestly, since that revelation that my gut and brain can work together (despite their respective difficulties and differences) changed me massively. I now book a GP appointment the second I get any inklings. I have even been admitted into hospital, after hours in A&E, almost yelling at a consultant urgently to put me in the CT scanner. I am not afraid of seeming crazy, or deluded. I trust my instincts now. 

If any of this waffle makes sense to you, dear readers, please let me know (via tweet or comment). And if it rings a few alarm bells in your brain (or any key organ, for that matter) then don't hesitate to reach out; to me, even to Lauren maybe, and definitely to your GP  to anyone who can listen, and help you. 


1 comment

  1. I haven’t ever heard of this podcast, but I’m so glad I have now. I’m going to go and save a bunch in my podcast app to work through tomorrow - anything mental health related and I am there :-)

    It’s beyond imaginable what may have happened if it wasn’t for that specialists line of thinking, listening to our gut can be so damn powerful!!

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