An Unexpected Journey to the Breast Clinc

A week before my 50th Birthday I received an invitation for a Breast screen mammogram from the NHS which I duly attended.

5 days later a letter came through the post from Southmead Hospital reporting that the Avon Breast Screening Service would like to see me in a week .

I went with the belief that my mammogram wasn’t very good and they needed to do it again. I got a shock when I arrived as I was led into a room with a wonderful Specialist Breast Care Nurse who sat me down and asked me if I was surprised I had been asked to come in.

Time went into slow motion and I realised something was wrong. I was in complete denial.

I had never had any issues with my Boobs!

I was told I would have to have another magnification mammogram and ultra sound as I had a lot of tiny micro-calcifications and cysts. The results are instant as they review them straight away. The Doctor was lovely and explained she wanted me to come back again in a weeks time for an X-ray Guided Core Biopsy as she still wasn’t happy.

When I got home I read up on this procedure and what to expect. I was floored!

In full survival mode I started to pre-hab. I watched Ted X You Tube videos about Cancer and Immunotherapy, motivational cancer survivor stories and read Blogs.

I became fixated on my exercise bike and the Sun. I ate loads more fruit and veg and less meat and by the end of the week felt that my body was very healthy, and prepared for a surgical invasion of needles and machines.

I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it or anyone to know. I didn’t want people to worry or ask me about it as I just wanted to focus on making myself healthy. I didn’t even tell my 20 year old daughter or son as I hadn’t worked out how to tell them.

At this point I was in the unknown.

Thankfully I came across a soul-stirring, beautifully written Blog/ Journal by two sisters – Katie and Evee called The Grief Reality which gave me all the answers I was looking for. I suddenly had the emotional information I needed to plan ahead in all scenarios. I was happy that there was a way for me to lead my kids through this distressing time. All their helpful links but particularly Maggies Centre gave me peace and hope.

My better half drove me to the Hospital which is about an hour away and we waited to be called in. I was very scared, but also knew I had to just get on with it now. I let the Doctor know I was anxious and he carefully explained everything and helped me calm my fears. They took several biopsies.

The radiographers and nurses in the room were excellent in distracting me the whole time talking to me about anything and everything to keep me from being anxious. The Biopsy machine is rather Hi-tech robotic like, it was good I wasn’t watching it.

Afterwards another mammogram was done to check the metal clip was still in place in case of further surgery. And the wonderful specialist nurse Miranda was waiting for me and G with cups of tea and to have a chat about receiving results and what they mean.

The journey back home again took an hour so I reclined the seat and enjoyed the ride. But things were not right when we got home. I sat down to eat and felt a tickle on my ribs. I touched my side and my hand was covered in blood. I went to the bathroom and my clothes were soaked too, I grabbed a hand towel and applied pressure and Graham came to see what was wrong and grabbed the car keys. We were off again to the GPs first then A&E.

Several hours later minus a pint or more of blood I went home again. It had been a long day and I sat on the sofa and watched a DVD without moving a muscle.

I went back to work 3 days later – too early, as my very bruised wound was still not healed and my GP prescribed antibiotics and re-dressed it. As I was getting up to leave my doctor advised me I needed to heal and signed me off work for a week.

A week later my wound was oozing blood again. The haematoma was very large and painful. Pain in my left armpit wasn’t a good sign either. Another Doctor saw me and explained I was in that small minority that had biopsy complications and I was signed off work again, this time for 2 weeks.

By being in denial I have made things worse for myself. I should have given myself time off at the start and realised it is quite a big procedure. I hadn’t prepared my mind.

My results came through the other day which were good. The areas they were looking at are benign and I have something called weddelite crystals, which they can observe. I am still waiting for the actual report so I can read it myself.

So I feel great about that for now, but will keep on with my anti-cancer diet in case it rears it’s ugly head again.

When I was asked at my first appointment do I check my breasts I was honest and said “No” Well how ridiculous is that? You need to do this! All of us from any age should be doing this.

T L C – Touch Look Check – It is important to be breast aware and learn how to Touch, Look and Check. There is no special technique, you know your body better than anyone else. Visit Breast Cancer Now and Breast Cancer Care for more information.

The earlier breast cancer is found, the better the chance of beating it.

I know of 10 women of a similar age to me who have been diagnosed with Breast cancer. Sadly 3 didn’t survive including a very dear and special friend. It is a devastating disease. It is important that we think about it more.

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