Mavis: I feel so lucky

Globetrotter columnist MAVIS BENSLEY is best known for her worldwide travels and adventurous spirit. But in April, she was diagnosed with breast cancer - and since then, she has embarked on her toughest journey yet.

Globetrotter columnist MAVIS BENSLEY is best known for her worldwide travels and adventurous spirit.

But in April, she was diagnosed with breast cancer - and since then, she has embarked on her toughest journey yet.

Today, Mavis provides an update on her health battle - and reveals why she feels so lucky.

IF everyone had told me three months ago I would have three tattoos, be stripped to the waist, flat on my back with a handsome young man writing little notes on my chest, I would have laughed in their face (and maybe even have said “thank you, God”)

Since finding a cancerous lump way back in April, I have been probed, x-rayed, operated on, had physio, even had a scan in the maternity unit (that caused some puzzled looks in the waiting room I can tell you).

Because I found the carcinoma at a very early stage and was treated very quickly and efficiently there was no way the cells had found their way to any other organ except into a couple of lymph glands which were removed.

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After the operation I had a CAT scan to determine the angles and dosage of the radiation. This is where the tattoos came in. Not dolphins or butterflies but tiny insignificant little dots just to line up the rays when radiotherapy started.

I had a wait of two weeks so I took off to Crete for seven days in the sun before starting six weeks of daily therapy - they give you Saturday and Sunday off. Each session only takes ten minutes or so and the staff keep very much to time, thank goodness.

The machinery is very much state-of-the-art, �2m worth of equipment. You don't feel anything, see anything and hardly hear anything, in fact you feel like saying “have you started yet?”

At every stage I was given a pamphlet about the treatment and long lists of possible side effects, none of which have I been affected by so far. There are complimentary therapies I can have. I rather fancy aromatherapy, massage and reflexology but only if they supply the margaritas to go with it.

I feel so lucky and a bit of a fraud because I feel so well. I have met others who are not so fortunate and have to have far more radical treatment with not such good prognosis.

Strangely enough, the looks of strain and stress are not so much on the faces of the patients but on those of parents, partners, carers. They must feel so helpless and bewildered at times. The “Big C” conjures up such frightening pictures, but by way of reassurance I can only say I have found that everyone I have had contact with has been efficient, capable, confident, cheerful, willing to answer questions, generous with their time, each aspect fitting together like cogs in a well maintained machine. I can only say a big “Thank You” to all of them even though they have me in a net for the next five years with follow ups, etc.

To anyone who is undergoing, or will be undergoing, treatment in the future I wish you the very best of luck and assure you, you will be in good hands.

Me? I can't wait to finish radiotherapy in August. I'm already thinking about a cruise in September.