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I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Monday 18 June 2012

How brave are you?

Can you remember the first time someone praised you for being a tough cookie?
I reckon that, for me, it was when I was tiny, getting a sticker at the doctor`s after a polio jab.

In adult life, I went on to win a bravery plaudit for removing a spider from a boyfriend`s bathroom sink. He found that being a six foot three prop forward`s no use at all when you`re terrified of the eight legged beasties, and want to brush your teeth. The plaudit was undeserved, as it happens, because the arachnid in question was as big as my hand, and hairier than the prop forward, so I sent the boyfriend out, crashed about for a while, slammed the window shut , did that swishy handclapping gesture and yelled a resounding `HA!`.

The beastie was forgotten.

Until 3 am, that is, when boyf popped to the loo, clocked the eight legged bugger running free and let out a bloodcurdling, `YOU LIED TO ME!!!!` that was enough to wake the neighbourhood. Oops.

I`m not always a wuss, though, or dishonest; honest. I mean--doctors and nurses have told me I`m being brave when I`ve had *nasty stuff* to go through in hospitals. Maybe they say that to all the patients though. And while you`d never find me abseiling down the Shard or leaping from a plane, with or without a parachute, I reckon I`ve been dead courageous sticking up for people at work in the past. Royally hammered for it at some considerable volume right across an office once, mind, but it took a certain kind of guts, and I`d do it again. whether the bully was there or not.

You see real examples of true, tearjerking courage in the media all the time, don`t you? And rightly so. Servicemen and women who`ve risked and sometimes surrendered their lives, to protect others. People coming to terms with horrendous, lifechanging circumstances with a stoicism or a smile that`s truly humbling.

But the reason I`m even thinking about bravery at the moment is because of a story, and a woman, a little closer to home. For courage, this lady takes the biscuit. (She`s been nil-by-mouth for a couple of days, actually, but they`ll probably start loading her up with hospital rich teas and buttered toast fairly soon.)

I`m not even going to name her, because although I`m very fond of her, and we`ve talked about this, I haven`t checked that it`s ok to share her story.

So let`s call her Lucy.

Lucy has three children, a husband, a job, a home, everything to live for. She also has a strong family history of cancer, and got the shock of her life a few months back when doctors thought she had an advanced, life threatening lump in her breast. It turned out to be a false alarm, but the nightmare lasted long enough for Lucy to have to think about preparing her loved ones for the worst.

It was a terrifying, wretched experience, and she decided she didn`t want to go through it again.

So this weekend, she`s been having her two, perfectly healthy breasts removed, then reconstructed, so she doesn`t have to feel that fear again; or take her family there again.
It was obviously a major medical procedure, and morphine and an amazing sense of humour`s getting her through it.

I think it`s an incredibly brave decision. For a start, there`s the discomfort and the element of surgical risk. For some, it might seem crazy to take a surgeon`s knife to a perfectly healthy pair of boobs which have been so important to you as a woman, as a mother, as a wife. And for sure, Lucy knows she could, perish the thought, be hit by a number nine bus next week, or face any other kind of disease life chooses to throw at her.

But not breast cancer.

She`s weighed up the risks, the odds, the potential misery her young family could face without her if cancer decided to strike and claim her, and decided to lessen those odds considerably.

Could you do it?

Support your wife or partner if she wanted to put herself through it? I`ve got enough cases of breast cancer in my family to need to consider it too, but I`m not sure that I`ve got the guts to ask for that kind of surgery.

Anyway, I know that in a while, she`ll read this. So,`Lucy`? Loads of love.You`re incredibly brave. Your friends and family love and support you, and can`t wait to give you a (gentle) hug. Well done.

ps Reading this on Twitter? Please RT for me. Thankyou!!

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