Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Breast cancer awareness month: How I came to be diagnosed

Author: Colette

This post is taken from Colette's blog The Broken Boobie.

Many people have asked how I came to be diagnosed, so I wanted to write a blog about this. I think its important as it may help others.

I noticed the lump about last August or September, I don’t remember exactly when as I just thought it was something to do with breastfeeding, a blocked duct or something. Over the following weeks it appeared to come and go, again I wasn’t concerned, it was tiny about the size of a pea, there was no pain, nothing unusual. The only thing that happened but I didn’t even connect them was that on occasion my son would refuse the right side, where the lump was. Breast Cancer was not on my radar, this was something that happened to other people, older people, I only knew of 1 young person who previously had Breast Cancer.

Over the Christmas I decided I should go to the doctor and get it checked out, I visited the GP in my work on January 7th, she confirmed that it was nothing to do with breastfeeding, but as routine all lumps get referred for assessment. I had to see my own GP to be referred. 2 days later I seen my own GP, again she confirmed its nothing to do with Breastfeeding. She wasn’t concerned about the lump, she thought it maybe a cyst of some sort, I forget what she called it. So she referred me to the breast clinic in St James. Strangely I was still unconcerned, I never even thought about Breast Cancer.

I called the Breast Unit the following week to check on my appointment. They give you the appointment based on the GP’s referral and the consultants review of this. I received an appointment the following week for the 12th February. The letter came with a booklet about what may or may not happen on the day of the appointment and that you may be there for several hours. I was planning been in and out in 2, funny looking back now. The appointment was for 8.30 it was about 2.30 when we got out.

I was examined by one my consultants team, she asked me a few questions, I don’t really remember what they were, nothing of major concern. I have no direct family history of Breast cancer, 2 great aunts had it but this is not considered a family history. She felt for the lump but found it hard to find it, I had to put her finger on where it was, I felt a bit silly like it wasn’t even there. The week before I actually considered cancelling the appointment as I couldn’t find the lump for a few days. She didn’t express an opinion as to what it might be but said she would get the consultant to examine me, this was standard practice so I wasn’t concerned she was getting his opinion. On examining me he came to the same conclusion as the GP, put said they would send me for a quick scan to confirm it was nothing of concern.

Off we went to the X-Ray department, I had a mammogram first, there was some confusion as the consultant had ordered an Ultrasound. But due to my age (over 35) I was 37 at the time I should have a mammogram first. I had done some research on Mammograms with women that are breastfeeding, they are often not done as they cannot be read. However, this is incorrect in fact it is the training of the people reading them that is not sufficient. So mammogram was done, the lady doing it asked why I was here, I said I have a lump its only tiny though, she said it doesn’t have to be big. These words have stuck in my head. There was a long delay to get the ultrasound, they kept telling me they were waiting for the doctor to look at the mammogram and then carry out the ultrasound. There were a few other women who had come in after me and I was getting frustrated with the nurses as they were going in to have ultrasounds before me, still I was oblivious.

I was last to have my ultrasound, the radiographer gave me a quick scan and said she was getting the doctor to have a look, still I was oblivious. So he scanned me and it felt like an age he was going over and over the same areas. There were a few other people in the room, one was a nurse who was asking me where I lived, who I was here with, where did I work, did I have children. I gave the doctor a look and he said he will explain all in a few minutes, more silly questions from the others in the room. Eventually he finished and said they are going to take a biopsy as there appeared to be calcium in the lump, I had no idea what this meant, they prepped me for the biopsy and after a few minutes I asked what this meant, pre-cancer was his reply. Biopsy was done and we were sent off with an appointment to come back the following Wednesday for the results.

I spent the next few days googling as you do, researched pre-cancer, dcis, never did I actually think they would tell me I had Breast cancer, this never even occurred to me! Mental looking back on it now. We had an appointment for the Wednesday at 2, there was only 1 or 2 others before us, it was clearly the bad news clinic from the worried look on other faces. We didn’t talk much in the waiting room, I was thinking before going in that if they brought a nurse in then it was bad news, D was thinking the same…. the nurse followed in behind us!

The Consultant went over everything we discussed at last appointment, he asked me the same questions over and over, how many children we had, how old they are, how old I am, how long did I breastfeed for, what did I work at, it was so strange it was like he was doubting the answers. He described what the thought he had felt at the last appointment and talked about the tests they carried out and then said I’m sorry to say you have Breast Cancer.

If your reading this and have something that you think is nothing going on in your boobs go and see your GP!

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