It’s Wednesday 25th March… I’m back to old habits of not completing posts…
Gosh, that title was hard to write… I’ve read and re-read it and stared in disbelief. Truth is… it’s the truth. I’ve thought long and hard about how best to deliver this. I’ve recorded a voice note for my dormant podcast… I’ve done between 6-10 video recordings for my dormant (again) YouTube channel but, as I sit her on a Friday night with a slightly puffed arm, sore thigh, ribs and breast, I’ve come back to where it all started – my blog.
Starting this blog enabled me to really express how I felt whilst on the journey to motherhood. I didn’t hold back and shared some of my darkest thoughts. Today, I’m going to take you on a journey… One that I would never wish anyone would really have to take…
I’ll break it up into a few posts so that it’s not a long read – I know we are in a “watch YouTube” type of era…
I gave birth in November 2016 and decided to breastfeed for one year. November 2017 came and I felt quite emotional that my baby would no longer need my “boobies”. I had noticed throughout that year, Samuel never really took to a particular breast. As we do – I had looked on many mum forums and came to a common conclusion that ‘he had a favourite boob’
New Year 2018, I noticed there was a lump in my breast. It hurt – like really hurt. I felt the other one and although there was a lump there too, it wasn’t as painful as the one I had found and I thought it had something to do with my milk drying up. When you don’t breastfeed for a period of time, your breasts can almost feel like rocks. They can become very painful so, I concluded that this was a result of me stopping the breastfeeding.
By April, I had had a few instances whereby Samuel would hit his head against my chest or hit a toy against me – the usual things that children do. These instances were extremely painful and almost brought tears to my eyes. I had noticed that sleeping on that side was also painful and really wanted to find out if there was anything I could be doing to speed up the milk drying process.
I called my GP and had the initial telephone screening appointment – you can’t get an appointment at my surgery (that’s another blog post). The GP told me to come in the following day and when I was there, he asked me a few questions but assured my that there was “nothing to worry about because a cancerous lump does not hurt.” He was adamant that he could not feel a lump but said I would need to go to my local hospital for a scan as this was the normal practice. I must also add that he really did make me feel as though I was wasting his time about something that was “not there.”
I had told my group of friends in our prayer group about the appointment and was assured that it would be nothing. I remember walking into the clinic and thinking “wow, everyone is here for the same reason…” I was shown to a cubical where I had to undress down to my waist and put my dressing gown on. The appointment letter had also told me to expect to be there for a number of hours so I had my Francine Rivers book with me.
The first room I was called into was with a male consultant who asked a series of questions and examined my breasts. He seemed bothered. He couldn’t “feel any lump.” I pointed out where the lump was and as he felt it, he said “that is not a lump.” I felt silly. Felt like I was wasting their time when there were people sitting in the waiting room who probably did have a lump. He told me that as I was “here anyway, you will still be scanned and then come back and I will give you the results.” I really felt like I should apologise for wasting tax payers’ (I am a tax payer) money and go home.
I messaged hubby to give him an update and he said I should wait and see what they have to say. As I sat in the waiting area, you could see people emerging from the consultation rooms… some had looks of relief on their faces and others were visibly distressed. I whispered to myself that I did not want to be one of the women who came out distressed and upset. I said a prayer and went back to reading my book.
My turn came and I nervously walked into the small room. The lady told me to undress and began scanning my breast. The dialogue between us went along the lines of
Lady – Are you breast feeding?
Me – No – why?
Lady – Your milk ducts are still active. Can you see all this here (pointing to the screen)? This is all milk. When did you stop breast feeding?
Me – November 2017
Lady – Looks like this may be hormonal because I can’t see a lump
Me – Really? It’s been almost five months and the lump was there a couple of months ago and, it’s really painful
She went on to ask a few more questions but told me that she could not see a lump and that it was hormonal changes. “It can take up to 18 months for a woman’s body to return to normal and for your milk to dry up.”
I really did feel silly. She said she would print out the scans and the consultant would view them and give me the results. Again, another long wait. I was taken into the room and the consultant confirmed that there was no lump and everything looked “normal”. I was sent on my way and was over the moon that I was one of the people who walked out with a look of relief.
By July 2018, the lump had grown and was extremely painful. Just a little touch would make me wince with pain. I discussed it with my husband and he urged me to call the GP again. I had another telephone consultation – this time with a female GP. She told me there was no need for me to come in to see her as she was sure that I knew my body best. I waited for my appointment and the 1st week in August, I found myself in the same waiting room.
The first consultation was with a female and she asked me to show her where the lump was and talk her through what I could feel. She said “show me how you check your breasts”. It hit me. I didn’t know how to check my breasts – no one had ever shown me. I was 33 and did not know how to check my breasts… She then showed me and said “your breasts are very busy”. I didn’t know what that was supposed to mean.
Using a marker, she marked that areas that she wanted them to scan and told me to wait in the waiting area.
When I entered the room, I noticed that it was the same lady who had scanned me back in April. There was also another young lady in the room. I couldn’t see her name properly but her badge told me she was a student. I remember saying to myself “is no one going to introduce her or ask if I’m ok with her being in the room?” I said nothing and was still. The words “Your breasts are busy” kept playing in my mind. It wasn’t long before the lady realised that she had seen me previously in April and said “I remember you, why are you back?”
I explained that I felt the lump had gotten bigger and was even more painful. Silence.
Lady- It all looks the same as before… I still can’t see any lump.
Me- it’s definitely there
Student- Oh, the …………… looks ………
I really don’t know what medical words she used but the lady continued and just made a sound. The student said a few more things and the nurse told me to get dressed so she could show the images to a consultant.
After what seemed like the longest 5 minute, she returned and told me to undress again. She took a few more images and left the room again. I was nervous.
When she returned, she told me we were going to the room next door as they needed to take a biopsy… A biopsy… I couldn’t shake the bad deep-down gut feeling that I had.
Biopsy over and I was told I would need to have a blood test before I left. They told me that the results of the biopsy would take two weeks so I should rerun on the 16th August. That was my dads birthday. We had a surprise planned… there was no way I was going to receive bad news… no way.
On the 16th August, we were taken into a room. An unfamiliar consultant and a nurse sat waiting for me. I was asked a few questions about my life and what I did for a living… “I’m sorry but you have breast cancer.”
That was the day my life changed forever. There’s no family history, I was healthy, did not eat sweets – you know, all the things that someone says when cancer shows up out of nowhere.
On 27th March, I’ll be sharing my YouTube video (9MonthsandWaiting) so please do check it out and, I’ll be back with the rest of the journey.
Be Encouraged, Be Expectant