I am not panicking.
I am trying to hang on to what I know and not speculate on what I don't. I am not going to editorialise or exaggerate or go off on a disastrous trip into fear and anxiety.
I'm not. I don't want to. Don't let me.
We've found another lump on Katy's neck. Actually, two lumps. The second one I found today at bath time; well, Katy did. She told me, 'Mummy, when I put my head on one side I think I can feel a bone. There's a hard bit on my neck, but it's not another lump.'
My heart did a little fluttery thing.
Nearly two weeks ago we found a lump, a little slippery thing about the size of a large pea, just below her scar from surgery last year. At some angles I could see it but others it disappeared. Nothing like her Special Bump from a year ago but since we only found that when it was big, who knows how it started out? I took her to the doctor, who said that it felt like an enlarged lymph node. In any other child the doctor would be sure it was a lymph node, nothing to worry about, happens all the time, and after all Katy had had a chest infection two weeks prior to the appointment.
But this is Katy who had surgery twice last year because of a tumour on her neck and the surgeon thought he'd got it all but time would tell...
I'm praying that time isn't telling. Not telling us this story, anyway. I don't want to hear it.
So the doctor made us another appointment for two weeks hence, and that will be the day after tomorrow. Today we found another lump. So that makes two. So the first one is still there and now there's another. Both within an inch of her scar.
Please, God, don't let this be a recurrence of her thing from last year. Please, please please, just take away the lumps and let her get on with growing up. Let her get on with learning to read and playing in the playground and going to parties and jumping in the swimming pool and laughing and fighting with her big sister and having tantrums and being the sweetest, cleverest, quaintest, most affectionate, perceptive, infuriating, funny, most beautiful little five year old girl in my world.
Lord, I'm struggling with fear again. That same shard of something sharp that seems to stab at me and make it a bit hard to breathe. I'm sitting here and I keep breathing heavily - a big sigh every few minutes because I'm fighting against panic or anxiety or depression or all three. My head is full of static since I saw and felt the second lump on Kate's neck earlier on and I'm trying to turn down the volume enough to hear you over the racket.
Here's what I know.
Katy has two new lumps on her neck. No, she has two lumps on her neck that we haven't noticed before.
You love Katy.
We have an appointment with the doctor in two days time and she was confident a couple of weeks ago that the (then single) lump was nothing worrying.
You love Katy.
The doctor thought the lump would go in two weeks.
It hasn't. In fact now there are two.
(See what happens? You know where I'm going with this.) Stop.
You love Katy.
I don't know what these lumps are.
Might be nothing.
It might be nothing, mightn't it? Please? A rogue lymph node or two? Maybe Katy's going down with another infection of some description (but by this I mean a sore throat, or a cold, not anything weird and unusual). Come to think of it she was a bit brittle and tired today. But that could just as easily be explained by the fact that she and Lizzie were up just after six this morning despite being told to go back to bed for an hour.
Lord, I should stop this. I should stop surfing the internet for information about recurrences of Katy's Special Bump because I'm frightening myself. Last time the surgeon told us that if the lump did recur we should consider drug therapy but it might be for more than two years on a combination of powerful drugs that are usually contra-indicated for use with children. List of side effects (including liver failure and blindness) as long as your arm. Well, my arm, anyway.
I'm off again. My head is full of operations, blood tests, hospital beds, anaesthetic rooms, needles, bandages, dressings, fear, pain, worry. The heartbreak of not being able to stop it hurting. How brave she was last time.
We thought it had gone away. Lord Jesus, please don't make me have to tell my little girl that it hasn't gone away.
You love Katy more than I do, even though that's not an idea that I can grasp. You love her so much that you died for her and you have promised to look after her no matter what. You also love me and you know how prone I am to worry and fear and stupendous feats of anxiety and jumping to conclusions and my tendency to pessimism.
Lord, let me know that you're there. I know that you are because I know that you never leave me, but just now, let me feel your arms around me. As I go in to see Katy tonight on my way upstairs I'm going to sit on the edge of her bed and lay my hand on her little sleeping body and I'm going to lift her to you. She doesn't belong to me anyway, she is your child, just on loan. I'm asking you to protect her, keep her safe, don't let anything bad happen to her.
Bring peace on this house, Father, and on us all. I'm praying that you're there, shaking your head with a wry smile and muttering, 'Here she is all worked up over a lymph node or two.'
I trust you. I trust you to bring good out of any situation and I trust you with my little girl.
It's probably nothing, isn't it, Father?
The story so far:
My anxious heart (4 April 2011)
Thy will be done - but could you do it this way? (6 May 2011)
My brave girl (4 June 2011)
Needing my friend (23 June 2011)
Microscopic but annoying (14 July 2011)
My brave girl II (19 August 2011)