I remember finding a lump on my left breast. I didn’t think much of it, and I definitely had no mind that it was cancer. I was seeing a doctor by 30 March 2020. I had to stay in the car park and phone them from the car before going in. There was nobody in the surgery; it was all quite eerie. Within the same week I was having a mammogram, and a week after that, I went back for the results.
Going into hospital was scary. There were already people dying because they didn’t know how to treat COVID yet. I went to a special unit out of the way of the main building, and although my friend Ann came with me, she wasn’t allowed to come in.
I was all alone with the nurse and consultant, which was daunting because they have to be professional still. My mind was, like, not focused on the cancer. I thought it was probably just a cyst, so when she told me I had cancer, and it was in the third stage, I was mortified.
I just wanted somebody with me to console me, and tell me everything was going to be okay, but I couldn’t have that. I had to ask to go outside for some fresh air and to see Ann, and I broke down again. I told her, “I’m having a mastectomy, and I’m not coming back again for loads of surgeries with the situation at the hospital.”
After the mastectomy and getting the wound dressed, chemotherapy was suggested, and I had my first session on 10 June. After that, I completely lost my hair. I was anxious about losing that because I always had nice thick hair, and making it look nice helped me feel good.
All the time I was going through this I had to just keep going on walks. It was all I could do. My husband, Malcolm, has Alzheimer’s so he couldn’t help out much other than making me the odd drink. He can’t even remember me having the cancer.
He was still driving at that time, though he’s not anymore, and drove me to every chemotherapy appointment. I had three big ones and then nine weekly sessions. He doesn’t remember any of it, though can remember something from his childhood. It is all quite strange.
I didn’t find it a burden at the time, it helped me stay determined; we worked together as a team as best we could. I have a very positive attitude usually and I didn’t let that get taken over by everything. Although, it would have been nice for people to be able to pop over and ask, “How’s the chemo, Margaret? How are you?”
Everything with Dominic Cummings was disgraceful, and I didn’t for one second believe that Boris didn’t know about the parties in Downing Street. Nobody else could do that, and I’m annoyed and angry about it.
Think about the people who ended up much worse than me, people who did lose loved ones. It was all so wrong. I’m angry because we followed the rules, and in normal circumstances, and I wouldn’t have had to go through all this on my own.