I realise that lots of women face this, but those were the three words that registered on Sept 30th, though a lot more was said.
On Monday, 19th September, Hubby felt a lump.
Instantly alert, I checked both sides, and yes, it was a definite lump.
I have no idea how I missed it in the shower as I am usually so thorough.
We went to the surgery the following day, and I was able to get an emergency appointment immediately, as in RIGHT THEN, that moment. Hubby came in with me.
The doc confirmed there was ‘something there’ and arranged for a Breast Clinic appointment within the next 2 weeks.
I received a letter the next day for Sept 30th from the surgery, which was confirmed the day after by the hospital.
Time seemed to drag until Friday, but we talked about the possibilities, agreeing to go in together.
The clinic was full and running late, so I didn’t get seen until half an hour past my appointment time.
The consultant was actually the wife of the GP who referred me.
I had seen her once at the surgery but didn’t realise she was now specialising. She was very nice, but I was worried.
After examining me, she admitted she didn’t know what it was.
I was sent for a mammagram, something I am already familiar with and the results from last year had come back clear, so they had something to compare to.
I was taken somewhere else for an ultrasound.
This isn’t new to me either, and Hubby was watching the screen intently.
The doctor then said:
‘There is a small lump, about 2 centimeters in size. That means it’s treatable and curable.’
There is a history of breast cancer on my father’s side of the family. His grandmother had it, his twin sisters had it, and one sister’s daughter had it.
This is on my medical notes, and is one of the reasons why I am so vigilant about checking myself regularly. My aunts and cousin are classed as ‘close relatives’ which could give cause for concern, even though breast cancer isn’t actually hereditary.
I then had a core biopsy, which involved a local anaesthetic and a needle inserted to take samples from the lump to be sent off to the lab for further analysis.
Having a thing about needles and to take my mind off the procedure (which didn’t hurt by the way), we talked about dogs.
Sporting steristrips and a padded dressing, we went back upstairs, and were shown into a private room where we were joined by a specialist nurse and the consultant I’d seen earlier.
I had already prepared myself for bad news, but preparing and actually being told is two different ball games.
They are not sure what it is, but know it is not a cyst or inflamed muscle.
I was given another appointment for October 12th (again under the two week referral system) where I would be given the biopsy results and details of what happens next.
Two more weeks of waiting, not knowing, surmising, worrying, discussing, anticipating, anything but planning until we know what we’re up against.
Thoughts of surgery and that again will be another wait.
Then time to heal before the next course of treatment starts, what that will be, how intrusive, where to go, expected side effects.
Today, 12th October.
I’d had a call yesterday saying the results were back as ‘normal fatty tissue’, but they were not happy and asked me to come to the hospital for 2pm today for another ultrasound and biopsy.
I saw a very nice nurse and a Consultant Surgeon who looked at the results, my mammagram and the ultrasound pictures taken 2 weeks ago, from which they determined the biopsy results should have read something different to ‘fatty tissue’.
I saw the ultrasound image on the screen this time, and there is a small mass clearly visible.
Hubby was allowed to stay when the biopsy was taken today.
I was so glad he was there as it was painful this time and I am badly bruised, but it is as they expected, that it is a small cancer, and these results will tell them more about the type it is and what treatment will follow. Surgery is definite.
And so we wait again.
Hubby is right there beside me.
We talk a lot. We share our concerns and anxiety.
He is worried. So am I.
But we can beat this. We will beat this.
We have friends who are supportive and not gossips.
I have told Bro, but no-one else in my family just now.
We can be up front, matter-of-fact, honest and open about our feelings with them and each other, discuss the issue sensibly, logically, rationally and calmly.
But in those private moments when I am on my own, be it in the shower, walking the dog, or even in a shop, those three words echo in my head:
Small, treatable, curable.
But I’m coming up with three more:
Positive Mental Attitude.
And another three:
I’m not alone.