'Has that lump always been there?'
That is not the words you want to hear from your oncologist when he is doing a routine check on your remaining boob!
Three months ago I finished treatment for Triple Negative breast cancer on the right breast. This involved chemotherapy, node clearance, mastectomy and radiotherapy. I was just starting to get back to some sort of normality with my husband and two small boys.
I had not even noticed the lump myself and I check a lot! He said there are plenty of reasons for a lump but best to get it checked out. He wants me to have a mammogram and ultrasound ASAP. He used the word urgent and that sent me into panic!
6 days later and I was in the same waiting room that I was sat in 11 months before. Memories came flooding back and I was not in a good place. I got called into the room and I pretty much broke down as soon as I got in. I cried throughout the mammogram and ultrasound. The radiographer couldn't determine what the lump was and kept using the word curious, is curious and good or bad word?!?! She would have to take a biopsy......and also biopsy under my arm. That was enough to send me into a complete panic. My breast care nurse was with me the whole time and tried to reassure me that they were just being thorough because of my history. She made an appointment for clinic for three days time to get the results, thankfully not long to wait but long enough!!
Day of results and I was a nervous wreck. In the waiting room I was pacing up and down trying not to run away crying. We got called in and looking at the breast surgeon I instantly knew it was bad news.
'I'm really sorry but it is cancer again'
WTF, how is this possible!? I remember screaming, crying, hitting things, hugging my husband, walking up and down the room not knowing what to do, crouching down in the corner of the room, basically losing the plot! It's a cancerous lymph node in the breast but that's all they know at the moment. I will need a CT and bone scan to check for spread. Already I pretty much know that it's spread. What are the chances of getting a new primary diagnosis in the other boob so soon, so it must be the original cancer spread to the other side, which must mean it's gone elsewhere!
I had to wait 5 days for the scans. Thankfully my BCN gave me some pills to help me sleep and I got some Diazapam from my GP to take the edge off the anxiety during the days.
The CT scan was awful, they set you up in there and then leave you alone. Then come back to turn you around so they can scan your head. Scared is an understatement! Next up bone scan! This wasn't as bad as I was able to listen to my iPod (thank you Answer Me This podcast!) and someone is in the room with you. But it's still 20 mins of lying still whilst a machine checked your body for cancer!
I only had to wait two days for an appointment in clinic for the results but it was tough. I started thinking about how much time I have left, how awful it's going to be for my boys, they are only 3 and 1 far too young to lose their mummy. What we can we do as a family before I go. There were lots of tears! I went out the night before results for a friends birthday, I'm so glad I did. We drank prosecco, did the pub quiz and laughed lots. And I drank so much prosecco I pretty much passed out in my bed! Morning came and I instantly felt sick. My appointment isn't until 1.30pm so My husband leaves me in bed as I do not want to get up and face the day yet. But I hear the phone ring and listening to him answer it and say the name of my BCN. He passes the phone to me....my hands are shaking. They can't be telling me bad news, I have the appointment for that, maybe it's changed times that's why she's phoning.
'Just to let you know your scans have come back clear'
OMG!! I cry with relief, it's a miracle!! They still don't know if it's a new cancer or the original one. But after me and my husband get back from holiday (we have a cruise booked the next week) I will have another mastectomy and nodes clearance and probably more chemo. I'm elated, absolutely ecstatic! We celebrate that evening with friends and I go to sleep without the aid of pills for the first time that week. Who would think that we would be celebrating only having Breast cancer, it's a strange world I live in now.
But now reality has hit home, I have cancer again! I have to have more surgery and go through chemotherapy again. I'm angry and sad but I've done it once and can do it again!! And with the help of my friends, family and my amazing YBCN girls I will get through it.