This blog is actually from January 2014 but I felt I should re share my experience for Breast Cancer Care 2015.
I didn’t really blog in January because I was going through a personal issue.
Normally I am a very private person but I’ve decided I’m going to share my experience with you. I’m not doing this because I want attention, I don’t, I’m sharing this to help others, raise awareness further and let you know that the outlook might be better than you initially think.
I found a new lump in my left breast three months ago.
Breast cancer affected my grandma and she’s no longer with us, needless to say even at my age I was worried. I rang my best friend Dr Emma, who reassured me and prepared me for the action I should take.
The advice was to leave it for one month to see if it settles down, sometimes we have changes monthly, it didn’t, in fact it grew. I saw my GP, who checked it, confirmed it was definitely a lump and referred me to a two -week breast care clinic.
The clinic phoned me up within days and booked me in at a local hospital for a week later. A week seemed more like a month. My best friend kindly accompanied me to the clinic where I was checked in and given a plastic basket for clothes and asked to remove the clothes from the top half of my body, including underwear.
The consultant, who was male, saw me and checked the lump from various angles, sitting, lying down and asked various questions about my health, lifestyle and family history. My friend and a female nurse were present throughout, this reassured me. Unfortunately, because it was close to Christmas there wasn’t a radiologist present so no other examinations and scans could take place. The consultant felt I should have both a mammogram and an ultrasound to be certain.
I was re-booked into a larger hospital, a few weeks later where I underwent the same procedure with a senior female consultant this time. I had a mammogram, which was nothing like I expected. A friendly nurse physically manipulated and angled my upper body into the correct position with my breast on top of a clear shelf-like plate.
The machine then started up and squashed my breast compact between two plates, which is fairly uncomfortable, before an image could be attained. This was repeated for both sides. Then there was some more waiting before the consultant checked the images and discussed the findings. Due to the density of my tissue nothing could really be seen, an ultrasound was necessary to get clearer images.
I lay on a bed whilst lubricant jelly was placed over the area for smooth manoeuvring of the equipment. As it was happening the doctor verbalised what she could see on her monitor and angled the screen so I could see. Unfortunately she wasn’t happy with what she saw, describing the lump as ‘abnormal looking’. I was very surprised that she insisted I have a biopsy there and then.
This involved collecting three samples of cells with a tube like needle under local anaesthetic whilst using ultrasound to get the exact right place, it didn’t hurt but wasn’t pleasant. After I was told that everyone has to be given their results in person and that it may take up to two weeks.
The longest two weeks passed.
A fortnight to the day later, with bruising still present, I went back to see the consultant who thankfully broke the news that the lump wasn’t cancerous.
I’m so pleased I took immediate action, please don’t be afraid to do the same, it’s very important we tackle these issues head on with urgency.
I’d like to thank my friends for their positivity, especially Ali Keenan at work who constantly reassured me. I’m sure many of you have been through this or will do in the future, know that you are never alone. I guess the message of this blog is: Get checked!