40. Perception and Reality

The appointment referred to in the previous blog was just before the end of the Spring Term, not long to go until the Easter Holiday.   I’d been back in school for most of this term.  With every hospital appointment I ensured I’d given a copy of the letter to our Head of HR and checked in with her on my return.  She hadn’t requested I do this but it helped me.

I did this as usual after the appointment I’d requested about reconstruction. Our Head of HR asked me to step into the office next door to hers – some staff call it the crying room.  I was quite upbeat (so I thought) as I explained about the plank, the jelly belly and BRAPAS guide to reconstruction.  She listened to it all and then just asked a simple question…”and how do you feel about it all?”.

I told her straight… straightish… as all the emotion just welled up and the tears were back with a vengeance.  My feelings about ALL of it were terrible.  I HATED all of it from the initial diagnosis, to the surgery, to looking at myself when I got dressed, to oncology and how I was super scared about a 8-10 operation to rebuild a boob I hadn’t wanted to lose in the first place.  I LOATHED all of it and by gently asking that simple questions she had unlocked the floodgates.  My perception of how I was dealing with it all (suit on, armour on) and how others saw me was significantly different.

I think that what I perceived as being together, trying to be funny, shrugging it all off probably came over as brittle and rather incongruous.  It was only when speaking to this colleague who has become a real friend, with her wealth of HR experience that I came to realise that I might just need some additional support – which she’d known all along. She gave me the number for the Schools Counselling Service and I gave them a ring.  They asked why hadn’t I gone through the Mustard Tree and were a bit surprised when I said I was back at work full time.  However, they would put me in touch with someone local – which they did.

Tip:  When you look in the mirror you might see your reflection but you may not see what is going on.  Sometimes you need a “critical friend” to help you see the wood for the trees. 


Author: fionaosmaston

I live in Plymouth, Devon with my husband Nick and near my parents Sandy and Sheena. Our three children, Marcus, Phoebe and Miles are grown up. I am a geographer and love teaching Geography. My current role is as an Assistant Vice Principal in an inner city comprehensive school where I lead on coaching and initial teacher training. In August 2017 I was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma and following a skin sparing mastectomy and endrocrine/hormone treatment I am now awaiting a final reconstruction. These views are my own and writing this story has helped me come to terms with where I am in this interlude of life which has been dominated by breast cancer.

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