You’re probably wondering how it all started?
It’s not that revelatory actually…New Year, New You so we started to eat more healthy. Avoided any ultra-processed food or any processed food at all. No bread, a healthy low-carbohydrate and high fat diet essentially.
Naturally with that I lost weight, possibly 5-6lbs within the first two weeks and then my boobs started getting a little smaller. I mean they aren’t massive to begin with but they definitely were getting smaller. Then…I noticed a lump. I’m not absolutely sure when I first thought I had a lump that was different but it probably was middle to end of January.
So being a health professional I thought…I will give it one cycle and then see if it changes in any way with hormonal fluctuation. It didn’t really…so that’s when I made the appointment with the GP.
The GP felt it as well and referred me on to the triple assessment clinic at our local hospital. 10 days later and there I am in a waiting room full of other extremely anxious ladies of all ages and all shapes. Sitting in our makeshift NHS open front scrub tops with a delightful NHS dressing gown over the top.
I had high hopes initially when they started with an Ultrasound (I’m under 40 so mammography isn’t great at detecting stuff.) The radiologist asked me again where this lump was, as he couldn’t see much with the ultrasound. (“That’s a good sign I thought.”)
I pointed to him the lump and he then took some FNA (fine needle aspirations) from the alleged lump. (Only a tiny needle and just a little bit stingy.)
“I’m not sure this is going to show anything too exciting,” he reassuringly said.
Boy oh boy did my hopes rise so high in that one simple statement. Texting R, who was annoyingly separated from me in another waiting room, I told her “he thinks it might not show anything exciting.” It’s amazing how you hang on to small comments, or the way a professional’s face looks. They’re burned into the back of my mind at the minute.
I was told to wait until the pathologist had looked at my slides before I could get dressed and return to the outpatient waiting room. A 15 minute wait turned into a 25 min wait, which turned into a 40 minute wait at which point my name was called. I was directed into a mammography room. Heart sink…
I wasn’t meant to have a mammography, but the radiographer told me “it’s ok – you’re here today to get this investigated and sometimes we just do all the tests to get a clear picture.” Ok, ok…I’ll go with that. So, a mammography and a digital tomography later I am back out in waiting room…waiting…
15 minutes later another call in to the same ultrasound room I had been in before. The expression on the faces of the radiologist and the auxiliary helping him couldn’t have been any more different this time.
“They aren’t happy with those cells…”
Then some small talk and an explanation of what a core biopsy is. (I know what it is but I listen with courtesy.) A core biopsy is literally a biopsy through the core of the tumour. It doesn’t hurt – they numb the skin up with local anaesthetic. It just gives the pathologist a lot more information about what kind of tumour they’re looking at. An FNA only aspirates cells from a lump and they sort of scrape it on to a slide that they can look at under a microscope, so it’s harder to be sure exactly the tissue type except to say that cells are abnormal. I won’t get the core biopsy results until another two days time. (They take at least a week to come back.) He also did a FNA of a small lymph node which he told me wasn’t enlarged (I really hope it’s not) just to gain some knowledge about whether this thing had spread yet.
Out to the waiting room again and a 15 minute wait to make sure they got what they needed. They had what they needed, I could get dressed and wait with R in the outpatient waiting room to get called in by the surgeon who had initially booked the ultrasound examination for me.
The waiting was really tough, for both of us. We watched as multiple patients went in and out of the small waiting rooms, the majority of them coming out with smiles of palpable relief on their faces.
I was absolutely busting to use the toilet (hadn’t been since 6:30am and it was now coming 11:45am.)
Of course as soon as I bit the bullet to use the loo I got called in. Typical.
Anyway, we were led down a long corridor and into a bigger room with the lovely female surgeon S, a specialist nurse C and a little student nurse who I barely acknowledged (sorry).
I knew it then, as I knew it when I walked into the mammography room nearly an hour earlier that the news wasn’t good.
I could see the look of horror on R’s face as she came in with me – she knew too.
The ‘breaking bad news’ part was done so well, so eloquently, just as how I would have wanted to do it if I had been the physician breaking the bad news. From Ms S and S/N C’s perspective I probably took the news very well, better than most I’d say.
Naturally I was gutted, but – I needed to know what was the next step, what would I do with work and what the expected the core biopsy to show.
So, the next step is results (two days time hopefully) and a surgical plan, +/- radio/chemo/hormonal therapy. This will really all depend on the tissue type.
How have the last five days gone?
My goodness if only I could describe in words how I, how we have felt. I will try…
I have never felt anxiety like it in my life. Ever. The fear rises from the pit of my stomach, working its way up into the back of my throat and then seems to make my head feel light. I of course then try to ascertain are these symptoms of the lump? Why do I feel like this? I didn’t feel sick before I knew it was a sinister wee bugger. In fact, one week ago I was training for an Ironman. I had just bagged two weeks of training of over ten hours. I’m swimming faster than I have ever in my adult life. I am not sick. I am health. Health with a lump.
There’s been a lot of positive things too. That’s so important. I’ve told everyone I love all about it. And everyone I love has been amazingly supportive and perfect and just behind me and R all the way. The lovely nurse C asked me before I left did I have a support network – oh my goodness C – I have a support network like you would not believe.
Support is important. Don’t hold this in. Share the pain. Share the anxiety because it gets you through.
Waiting is terrible. I just want to know what I’m dealing with and what I need to do now to move forward… but… that news (and maybe not the whole news) will come in two days time. Meanwhile, I’m just getting through the days by doing normal stuff and trying to pass the time. The tears come often, but less now than at the start. I will get through this and that attitude has to stay. Crying is ok.
I think I’ve got what I want to say down for today. No doubt I will have a lot more to say in the upcoming days and months. If you are reading…thank-you. Sharing this helps me.
If no one is reading that’s ok too, because the act of writing down my thoughts are helping me. Cathartic – I love that word.
They only reason I’m blogging is in case someone in a similar situation to myself comes across the blog one day and maybe finds some ease or relief to know that another went through what they’re going through.
This is my story…