Diagnosis – it’s not always a lump !

The main reason for opening up on Facebook was to raise awareness, we are all know to look for lumps … but mine wasn’t a lump or should I say I didn’t feel a lump.

Around late summer 2016 I noticed my right breast didn’t look the same, a very slight change. One day I would look in the mirror and think yes, there’s a change. The next day it would look again and think nope it’s fine. In October I went for a routine GP appointment for migraine tablets, and embarrassingly I mention my slight concern, being a bit flippant, nerves maybe. Unfortunately because it was a late appointment, he was unable to examine me, as no chaperone was available. We made an appointment for 2 weeks time as he was away the following week. I returned for this appointment and he examined me, I have to say it was a very uncomfortable situation. He said he could feel something but as there was no puckering around the nipple, he felt it was possibly hormonal and to come back in 3 weeks.

I was so relieved he didn’t think it was anything serious that I just left and went to work as normal. I spoke to my manager explained what he’d said, and whilst speaking to her realised that I didn’t think it was hormonal because the change had be there for a while, she insisted I return asap and get a referral. Which I did, again another GP who wasn’t concerned in fact quite unconcerned said I’ll refer you for peace of mind. Although they all seemed positive, I was worried, I thought I hid it well (as I think we often think we do) but when I spoke to my colleague she said she knew something wasn’t right (I wasn’t my usually bubbly self). I did keep it quiet …not wanting to worry people. My referral was in 2 weeks, I even said I’d go alone, Mark didn’t need to take time off, my manager offered to go with me 😀. Sensibly I gave in to Mark coming with me and gave up on the ridiculous notion that I would go to work after the appointment.

The day arrived a Monday the last Monday in November, I arrive at the breast institute at Nottingham City Hospital it’s busy, I am called into an exam room, with a breast nurse and a trainee, the nurse took details of what I felt was different, which area, she marked this on my chart. Then I am examined again, she as the others said she could feel something but felt it wasn’t anything to worry about, (the trainee also examined me) but she will send me through for a mammogram and ultrasound. Before sending me through she marked me with a marker to show the area which I thought had changed. When Mark and I went to the other waiting area we felt relieved, that’s 3 professionals all saying they think it’s nothing, next bit just routine.

During the mammogram, which is a little uncomfortable but not painful, I had a giggle with the nurse doing it, even though yet again my boobs were on show, she was great. After this simple procedure I waited for my ultrasound, this was preformed by another trainee (so all going to be fine if they concerned then a trainee wouldn’t do it would they??) The young nurse and I chatted about Alzheimer’s Society and my role, ignoring the ultrasound. Then the young trainee said he would go and get the radiologist to take a look.

The radiologist came in, she did her bit and looked seriously at me, “I am concerned you have a small lump that I want to do a biopsy on now, the mammogram also showed some calcification which may need further investigations” . I think I knew at that point it wasn’t good…the biopsy wasn’t painful, again just uncomfortable. They made an appointment for my results on that Friday.

They were a long 4 days …… I was back at the Breast Institute, called into a exam room, we sat and waited for the consultant to arrive, he came into the room with Diane a breast care nurse. He said those words it’s cancer …. I can’t really say what I felt, I think I already knew this. At this point I had to get me boobs out yet again (will this bit ever get easier??) so he could examine me. He was very nice, and explained that as things are he would recommend a lumpectomy, radiotherapy and then because I am young chemotherapy  (Yay first positive I am young), however they want to investigate the calcifications further…this means having a vacuum biopsy, they want to check that this area isn’t anything to be concerned about. (I will blog about this later, and further treatment)

Diane is now my breast care nurse, she is there for me 5 days a week during her working hours, she will be may contact point for the next 5 years. She explained all this and my diagnosis in a private room, with tissue boxes and lots of leaflets. Diane then introduced me to a volunteer who had experienced breast cancer herself, when she realised my children were the same age as hers were when she was diagnosis she had tears in her eyes, and I felt sorry for her, I’d be fine a little lumpectomy and some treatment and all will be good.

The hardest part of this day was the telling people, my mum was away but wanted me to contact her and let her know, how do I tell her it’s cancer. My manager needed to know too, so I rang them both from the hospital, tried to be positive and factual, I was going to be fine. I then rang 2 friends on the way home, to say that was hard is an understatement. At home we had to break it to the children, we’d had be honest about tests as they knew it was strange that Mark and I were taking time of work. As they are teenagers we decided to tell them the facts and to be open and honest – I hope this helped them both, but you can never be sure, we did the practical things like filling in a specially designed form (by the breast cancer care charity) for telling the school. but who knows how they really are ?? I can just keep an eye on them and hope for the best.