Quickly referred the Breast Care Unit, I decided to go to my appointment on my own.
It was close to Christmas now, the children’s first Nativity plays and my sister’s 40th birthday – added to this my husband’s Nana had been ill, so fair to say a typical manic family build up to the holidays. No need to worry everyone for no reason I decided.
I parked at the front of St James’, it was my first time visiting the hospital and I hadn’t realised there was a huge multi-storey car park at the rear. The car parking attendants were emptying the ticket machines, so in my haste I opted for a hand written ticket (big mistake) and I stupidly gave my money to the ‘helpful’ attendant. This later resulted in a ticket received mid-way through my first visit to the Breast Care Unit!*
Finally at my appointment, the first lady I saw was a trainee and she asked if she could go through the standard questions with me and examine me. Yes I am young, no I don’t smoke, no I’m not overweight, yes I (somehow) managed to breast feed my two babies etc etc.
Upon examination she too felt the lump, but assured me that it was small, and that it moved upon pressing it, and that I was young so to try not to worry. We repeated this scenario with the consulting specialist who sent me for an ultra sound and a mammogram straight away.
It was when the girl carrying out the ultrasound told me that told me that something was there, and that it wasn’t all ‘in my imagination’ that it slowly began to dawn on me. She took extra time to capture the image of all ‘three’ lymph nodes under my arm that she needed because she was a perfectionist…
Then the mammogram – I did wonder how the hell they would get an image of my tiny boobs, but sure enough they did, and even though I hadn’t been given time to worry about it – it didn’t hurt (I can tell some would wonder). It was when the girl returned, explaining that we’d need to do a second mammogram as something wasn’t quite clear, and the specialist had requested we repeated it, that I knew.
Finally I was sent for a core needle biopsy, six hours later, more money on the car – laying on a table with my trust put into two more nurses.
Eventually I saw the consultant for the results. My fears were confirmed, I could tell straight away in her eyes and her demeanour there was something there – but she was confident that we would get ‘it’ all sorted out.
I would need to come back to clinic the next week for the biopsy results. I explained that I couldn’t because I would not miss my children’s first Nativity play. Something in her I could tell took pity on me and she agreed to meet with me the following day – on her day off.
And so I knew, before even going through the following weeks that I had breast cancer. The diagnosis was merely a confirmation of something that had already existed in my body for some time. The morning everything changed.
*Incidentally my Breast Care nurse was so appalled at my resulting ticket that she personally saw to it that they dropped the ticketing fine – still it is the type of thing that could only happen to me, given my general level of dizziness.