Two friends in the last eighteen months have been diagnosed with breast cancer, both have dealt with it in very different ways and I’m not sure now I would feel if it were to happen to me.
How often do you check your breasts? Do you know how often you should check them?
Being super skinny it’s easy for me to notice any changes and I check myself monthly, despite the fact that I don’t have a monthly cycle. I’m in the surgical menopause and using HRT.
Sunday 8th March as I was laying in bed I noticed a lump, it was small but it was there, I wasn’t going to panic, I went to sleep. Next morning when Andrew woke up I asked him to check for me, without being rude if there is anyone who knows your boobs better than you, it’s your partner. He agreed there was definitely a lump there, I called the doctor and was given an appointment for an hours time. Along we went and she thought I was there for my usual health issues but I had to stop her in her tracks. I explained the lump and she then asked to examine me, after a thorough check she agreed yes I needed an urgent referral.
Within the week I had an appointment to be seen at the local Breast Clinic, the appointment was the day after my Botox treatment! My headache was already ramped up and of course with no sleep I went off to the appointment feeling like a zombie.
Now to anyone who’s not been to a Breast Clinic before first off, don’t worry the staff are lovely and supportive. This is probably the nicest side of the NHS you will ever come across, after booking in, it was explained that I would be having a mammogram followed by an ultrasound, then finally I would meet the consultant. That all sounded very straightforward.
After a short wait I was called through for my mammogram, I’ve never had one before and being in my chair Andrew came along just in case. If I needed to stand for the test and had a syncope attack at least he could help. We shouldn’t have worried, the machines are so clever they didn’t even require me to get out of my chair, I stripped to the waist and then the contorting to get my non existent boobs into the best position for imaging. It didn’t take too long and finally the four images were done. I got redressed and headed back to the waiting room, another short wait and then it was in to see the radiologist. She scanned me and found the lump immediately, she asked if there had been any changes I told her it has already got bigger, she checked around it and then up into my armpit (ie the lymph nodes). It really didn’t take long, Andrew was by my side throughout, holding my hand. Finally she explained she had seen a small lump approximately 7mm in size at this stage, I had caught it early due to my lack of subcutaneous fat. She believed it was benign and a lymph node that had enlarged but she wanted to aspirate some cells for testing to be sure, if I was happy with that. Well after 30 ish needles in the head, one needle in the boob would have to be tolerated. So they got me prepped for the procedure, I was now clinging to Andrews hand, he was watching the screen fascinated by what was going on, I was in agony. Eventually they had enough cells and the needle was removed, thank goodness for that !! Again I was allowed to redress and back to the waiting room.
Our final wait, by now the waiting room was packed out, I was called through immediately. The consultant was lovely she chatted through my medical history, was aware of Ehlers-Danlos, was kind and compassionate, once again I was asked to remove my clothes and she examined me. She agreed with the radiologist that it was probably benign and the results could be posted to me, however if there was anything wrong they would call next week. We said our goodbyes and left, my experience at the Parapet Clinic had been very good.
Now it’s just a waiting game, I know I shouldn’t worry but it’s natural for me, I was a born worrier, until I get it in black and white “all clear” then I won’t fully heave that sigh of relief.
All I can ask ladies and gents (and yes it can happen to you too) is make sure you check your breasts, it could save your life !!