Operation Melanoma...

Fast forward a weekend of up and down emotion, where I was being kept busy by loved ones. One minute you're happy the next minute you're sad; you try really hard to be positive and a brave face becomes second nature, but inside you're scared and you can't help but feel totally isolated.

Following my scan results I headed home with Mark for my sister- Jo's birthday drinks, a little get together at a local pub full of people who know me and know my latest news. The evening was lovely but I felt exhausted, while the relief in family and friends faces said it all, some people just didn't know what to say, which I understood, it wasn't an easy one to get your head around. I had to explain the situation a lot and keep my chin up. People commented on how well I looked, while all the time I remember looking across the room at Mark, thinking, what did he do to end up in this situation, he's only 26 years old and having to face the fact his girlfriend has cancer.

It's now Monday morning and we head to Frenchay for my Pre-Op assessment. Following a questionnaire and blood pressure check I get the nod to say I'm well (enough) for my operation to go ahead and to have the general anesthetic. I collect my navy compression garment from the Skin cancer department, to stop my upper body swelling after the operation and it needed to be worn everyday and night for 6 weeks after. It really was as attractive as they said it would be, it was tight elastic and zipped up with a struggle, but if it stopped swelling and helped me mend quicker then it had to be done, I couldn't wait to show Mark this beauty.

Come Tuesday morning the wait was close to being over, I packed up my desk at work (had to pass the day somehow) and headed back home for one last nights sleep before my operation, time to get rid of this thing that was taking over mine and my families life.

I began to pack a small suit case with just enough stuff for a two night stay, I wanted to be out of hospital by the weekend, tucked up and cosy at home. I had Mark ready to wait on me hand and foot and two of my best friends coming to help him on the Saturday and Sunday.

I wasn't allowed to eat anything after 12am that night, so naturally all I could think about all day was food. I ate the biggest supper going, showered and headed to bed, setting my alarm for 5:30am to get to Frenchay for 7am. That night I went to sleep feeling like I'd had this cancer for months, yet it was less than 10 days since my diagnosis and now It was about to be gone, for good. I was so appreciative of all the people that had helped me get to this point, I hardly felt fazed by the actual operation ahead, I just wanted it over and done with.

Needless to say I hardly slept. I saw 2, 3, 4 and 4:30am where I then had my last fluids, by 5:30am I was almost relieved the night was over. I began to get ready and woke Mark to drive me to the hospital. We didn't chat much in the car and we didn't play 'The Final Countdown' song we said we would on the way in either; Mark kept asking me if I was ok. I thought I was ok, but nerves were beginning to set in, it was still dark and the rain was lashing down and all I could think about was Mark driving home by himself in the miserable rain once he'd dropped me off.

I'm never usually early for things, my sister Vicky refers to it as 'Jen time' (usually 15 mins late) but this particular morning we were early, so early we had beaten the nurses who open up the pre-op waiting room. Once pre-op was open and I was met by a nurse, I told mark to head home, he reluctantly left and as he walked away I began to feel like a scared little girl being left on my own on my first day of school.

I was eventually told to get into my hospital gown. I had worn one of these a few times for the scans but this one literally had no back, or anything to tie it together, my underwear choice wasn't hugely conservative or Bridget Jones, but very bright with a bold pattern, there was no hiding it and my backside was definitely out. At this point I knew that conservative underwear was maybe something I should have considered for when I was on the operating table, but with no make up, no deodorant, some white knee length surgical stockings and now a backless gown I don't think how I looked really mattered at this point in time.

I waited in an empty room to meet the anesthetist and saw myself in the mirror opposite, I looked young and my face looked thin, I thought to myself...Why am I here? I decided to snap a photo of me in my new outfit to send to family to show them I was ready. Taking the photo in the mirror, like a posing girl, this was the first time I'd properly stopped to look at myself for a while and now here I am, waiting to be put back to normal, back to Jen.

I meet my anesthetist and he tells me how I'm going to be put to sleep, I also confirm that should it be required, I will allow a blood transfusion. On agreeing this with the anesthetist an unfamiliar lady walks into the room and introduces herself as Dr V, one of the plastics team. I begin to panic although trying not to show it, I wonder where Dr A is, I thought he was doing my Op? Dr A knows my story and this lady doesn't, this made me anxious, I hope he's not bailed on me.

Dr. V goes over the procedure of what is going to happen, she can tell I'm nervous as wonder were Dr. A is, she's nice, but she's not him, with that she marks an 'X' on my left arm to tell them the side I am to have surgery, like something out of Nip/Tuck.

With that, Dr A walks into the room and smiles, I sigh with relief. The last time I saw Dr. A he wasn't in a position to tell me if I was going to be ok, if the scans would be ok or if I'd even get the operation, but he was here and so was I, he rubbed my shoulder and checked I was ok whilst commenting on my nice slippers, he then asked me if I was ready to go as surgery were ready for me...and I nod. This is it, it's happening, shit I'm scared.

We walk down the corridor and Dr. V follows, Dr A tells me the history of Frenchay hospital and says that pretty soon it's all due to go, it's going to be demolished to be moved across Bristol to join another hospital. Dr. A sounds sad in his voice and I begin to wonder how many operations he's done in that hospital, that I'm probably just one of hundreds and for that reason, I'm in safe hands.

We get into theatre and I'm welcomed my about 8 people. The anesthetist asks me to get into the bed and lie on my side, oh no, this is it, out comes my backside and bright underwear as I take off my dressing gown and lie on my back with my gown open, slightly embarrassing Jen, choose larger pants next time. I suppose the chance of holding any dignity is down hill from here. A nice nurse and the anesthetist then begin to try to find a vein to inject me, they scratch at my hand to find one. I can tell he's new to this as eventually the elder nurse takes charge and with after some more uncomfortable scratching using a needle on my tender skin, they put me to sleep.