I found the lump about 2 weeks ago I don’t think I’ve EVER checked my breasts and I lay in bed one night, no doubt prompted subconsciously by something I’d seen or heard, I decided to have a feel. My left one had this huge lump thing which wasn’t mirrored on the other breast. I booked in at the doctors and she confirmed I did indeed have a lump and that she’d refer me to the hospital. I asked her what she thought it was, she was understandably vague but said it could be one of a number of things not necessarily the big C. I have to be honest, I wasn’t really too concerned. I’d decided I had a cysts – nice bit of self-diagnosis.
I was completely unaware my body could perform such things.
So the mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy process starts as do my tears, it’s so bad the nurse performing the mammogram asks me four times if I want to stop. NO, I just want it done, I want to be told I’ve got a cyst and I want to go home and look forward to Christmas. It’s for this reason I’d asked my friend Catherine to come with me, not because I thought I had cancer but because I knew I’d be on meltdown due to the procedures. After being handled like a milking cow (not her fault, she was very lovely) and having my boobs stretched beyond all expected capacity between two bits of toughened plastic (I was completely unaware my body could perform such things) we get moved to a separate room to wait the 45 minutes for the ultrasound. Just as well, I don’t think I’d have been able to see through the tiny slits in my face to find our way back to the main waiting area. As we sit and I calm down, we continue with the conversation of “There’s nothing wrong with me, I’ll be fine, there’s no way I’ve got it, it’ll just be a cyst or a blocked duct, god there’s a million things it could be, just because it’s a lump it does NOT mean I’ve got the C word.”
So I lay sniffling and breathing my garlic breath all over John the technician.
We get called through for part two – the ultrasound, and I ask that Cath sits behind a curtain. We’ve been friends since we meet in 1990 in the south of France and there lies another story but forgive me I really don’t want her seeing me with my whammers out getting prodded and poked. The ultrasound is no different to that uber-happy experience when they show your baby moving and wriggling, except this one isn’t quite so happy. I’m still crying; pathetic I know but the floodgates have been removed and so I lay sniffling and breathing my garlic breath all over John the technician. It was seriously strong. Cath had already commented when she arrived at my house how bad it was and she suffers from polyps in her nose that mean she can’t smell anything, so it must have been bad.
John does both boobs but understandably spends most of the time gliding the equipment over the bit that’s been used as a colouring-in pad by the consultant. As he moves it to my armpit – I know. I just know. I know what he’s doing there, we all do… the dreaded fucking lymph nodes. Two small words that none of us ever heard of before and lived in complete ignorance of their existence until the C-word.
Ignorance in my world is NOT bliss.
The biopsy, well, it wasn’t nice but to be perfectly honest it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I’d expected it to be. John was really considerate and explained what was going to happen. He numbed the area and then let me hear the noise the instrument would make, I guess so as not to scare me. It sounded a bit like a quiet gun. I didn’t look. I think sometimes when you can’t see what’s happening it’s easier to cope with and bizarrely hurts less. The most uncomfortable part for me was having to keep my poorly arm stretched above my head. It’s not built for these kinds of manoeuvres since it tried to vacate my body some years hence in a motorcycle accident. That REALLY hurt. John explained that he was going to leave a coil in the lump, something to do with measuring the size of it… bit lost on me, to be honest; I was a little distracted.
I’m not built for waiting. I’m one of these that just need to know. Ignorance in my world is NOT bliss – so I asked him if it was a cyst.
‘It’s definitely not a cyst,’ he said. Hmmmmm, fuck.
“And it is definitely not benign.”
“But there’s some good news. It doesn’t appear to be in your lymph nodes.”
It’s incredible how your once quick brain malfunctions and grinds to a halt. It flatlines and turns to spaghetti.
My brain exploded. FUCK – what do I tell my kids, I haven’t got time for this shit; I’ve too much to pack in before I die (I’m not overly dramatic but trust me this does push you the edge of reasonable thinking). It’s taken me ages to grow my hair. I don’t want to lose my eyebrows. God how do I tell people?
I realise I’ve said most of this out loud as John responds with a, “Well, we need to send the biopsy off first and find out what type you have and what we need to do to is identify which treatment you will need to shrink it.”
SHIT, I’ve got it. Those three little words: I’VE GOT CANCER. The Big C. How bloody annoying AND to cap it all, I’m still bloody crying. I honestly can’t believe it. I’m fit, well, healthy, got a superb life and now I’ve got this to contend with. I simply don’t have the time. How inconvenient, and just before Christmas too; speaking of which – NO, I’M NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO CHRISTMAS!