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Thank God it's Friday;Talkback

magazine article | Published in TES Newspaper on 22 January, 1999 | By: Lynne Frugtniet

Monday The doctor says yes, I have a lump in my breast and schedules a scan for later today - there are no mammogram facilities on the Kenyan coast. Before the appointment, I arrange the cover list, postpone a canteen meeting, rearrange careers' interviews and ask my secretary to confirm a British Council meeting.

I return early to find Mateo waiting for his career interview (the cancellation message did not get to him). The canteen reps then tell me the children want more meat in their samosas, and the chips are cold and soggy. Promise to look into it.

I leave school for the British Council, where British University reps try to entice my Year 12, income-generating "overseas" students to opt for their courses. The air conditioning is broken and the reps look hot and sweaty in their suits and ties. They ask me how I manage to work and live in this heat. Dressing sensibly is one survival tip.

Tuesday We've been offered an all-expenses-paid weekend stay at a local 5-star hotel as "mystery guests". This cheers me up before I head for the junior concert, in which my two daughters sing their hearts out. Having them in the same school as me - and being able to see them throughout the day - is a real perk.

The results of my scan come through; lump confirmed, further tests tomorrow.

Wednesday I apologise profusely to the teachers who have to cover my lessons again. I then drive to the hospital through torrential rain. When I get back, Yusuf is outside my office, he's sorry and he won't do it again. But he will - Yusuf likes attention. He doesn't get enough at home from his Dad, the two wives and 12 brothers and sisters.

There's the usual agenda at the lunchtime school council meeting - homework, uniform, school trips - and a request for a quieter generator to cover the power cuts.

Thursday Two teachers are struck down with malaria - mosquitoes have claimed five staff so far this term.

Start to pack for the weekend.

Friday My results come through: it's breast cancer and I'm advised to take "the first flight out". I can't believe this is happening. Shocked. Dazed. I must clear up the office, mark these books, cancel that meeting. What do I pack? How long will I be gone? The children are told of my "surprise" trip to England and a steady stream of visitors say goodbye and good luck.

I cancel the free weekend.

Lynne Frugtniet returned last March from Kenya, where she was deputy head of a small international school. She has now finished chemotherapy and returned to teaching in south Wales this month


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