I was getting dressed on the 29 February when I noticed a small, hard lump in my right breast, just beneath the nipple. Paul was in the room with me. ‘There’s a lump in my breast,’ I said. We both had a look and agreed I should get it looked at by the doctor. We got on with things. We were sort of rushing. We needed to drop Joseph off at nursery and then head to the hospital for our 20-week scan.
An hour or so later, I was sitting in the hospital waiting room. I was thinking about names for the baby. I was certain it would be a boy. I wanted to call him Benjamin. Harper Lee had died recently and I wanted to pick a middle name that was a tribute to her in some way. I wondered, idly, whether Paul would agree to Benjamin Atticus, or Benjamin Boo. I knew he wouldn’t. And then I remembered the lump, and I thought, quite simply, that I might have cancer.
We were told the baby was healthy, growing well, and a girl. I was stunned and delighted. I spent the journey home thinking about girls’ names, something I’d never really allowed myself to do before. Later, we picked Joseph up from nursery and told him the news. We asked him what we should call his baby sister. ‘Brother,’ he suggested, then ‘Dave’.
This was what my life was like. Busy, chaotic, full of laughter. We’d moved out of London after ten years to be closer to my family and slow things down a little. We had an energetic toddler and were expecting a second child. We didn’t have time for cancer.
And what is the 29 February, anyway? It’s a non-day, a bonus day, a day that only happens once every four years. A funny sort of day for your life to take a turn.