The 4th September felt like the longest day in history. My appointment began at 9.45am with my first meeting my consultant. In my usual way, I hid my anxiety with a mixture of smiles and jokes. I had convinced myself that I was going to be wasting their time and almost apologising for it. I introduced myself as a ‘lumpy bumpy’ sort of a person who has had a number of cysts and moles removed over the years but nothing to worry about and this would probably be the same. My consultant asked me if there was any history of cancer in my family to which I replied with a confident “No but remember we are a lumpy bumpy family, but no cancer”. He checked my breast and advised that I would now be sent through for a mammogram and possibly an ultrasound and to go back to the waiting area until called.
I was eventually called through to the mammogram area of the hospital at the same time as another lovely lady in her late 50s. I quickly realised how frightened this lady was and it took all my NLP skills to remain calm in myself and offer support to this other lady.
This was the first time I had had a mammogram and found the whole experience excrutiatingly painful. I’m not sure if it was necessary for the nurses to be quite so brutal and to pull my breast between the sheets of plastic nor to twist the plates tighter to squash my already painful breast… but it was necessary (although this piece of equipment MUST have been invented by a man!). I knew that I had to remain calm and pretend that it was a breeze so that my new friend was less nervous about her mammogram. I think I managed it.
I then waited for confirmation that the mammogram was clear enough and if I needed an ultrasound. After an hour or so I was taken to another room and a radiologist conducted an ultrasound – a much more pleasant experience.
Back to the waiting area to be called to see the consultant and get the results of my tests. My new friend and I sat and talked about anything but what was happening to begin with and then shared our common interest in why we were there. I think this helped calm my friend but made me more nervous. I had laughed with the consultant and again with my friend that I was meant to be going to a ball this evening and my dress didn’t go around my bust so unless I could have a quick reduction that day, I would need to purchase a new dress in the next few hours!
Eventually I was called in to see the consultant. He advised me that the mammogram had indeed shown a lump but the ultrasound indicated that there was another small lump underneath. He thought the scans indicated that the lumps were a fibroadenema and would send a biopsy sample to the lab for testing. In order to get a good sample with both lumps being included he had to take three deep core biopsies which left me sore and bruised.
I had to talk to someone and called my friend Millie to ask if I could call in. Once again I fell apart on her and Mark, her husband, whilst I told them about my day and my worries with their finding a lump. They’ve been so fantastic at looking after me, with Mum and now this. I’m so very very lucky to have such wonderful friends but am longing for a time when I don’t fall apart in tears or feel that I’m being totally self-absorbed with problems in my life!
Millie makes me promise that no matter what, if there’s an operation, I am to move in with them and be looked after until I’m well enough to leave. I’m not allowed to leave until I promise. This is such a blessing and actually a huge relief to know that I’m not alone. It is odd, I have so many good friends and lots of family around who are very supportive of me in everything I do but at times I just want to hide and pretend it’s not going on or don’t want to burden people with my problems so simply make light of them and appear that everything is well when inside I hurt. Another lesson that I’m going to have to learn in all this is to be honest and up front about what I’m feeling and what I need… and ask for help, if I need it instead of being so bloody minded and independent. That’s a tough lesson for me…