Testing…Testing…Give Me Results!!
I can’t say the week that followed was the easiest, mentally. The more I realised I was going to that hospital, knowing they were testing for cancer, I just wanted to get there and get it over with.
No Point in Being Shy Now
When the day arrived, I was prodded, poked, my boobs squished to an inch thick (I’m a bigger girl – not pleasant!) and the one with the lump in hurt A LOT when they did that. Mammogram’s I know are essential, but they can hurt!
What next? Ultrasound.
We were placed in another waiting area for the Ultrasound. More waiting. But then due to the position of the area in question, I had to have a second mammogram to get more precise pictures. By this time, any worries about getting my boobs out had gone, the way they were being man-handled!
Sorry – woman-handled I should say…
My husband was with me and came into the room for the ultrasound and they took their time in taking lots of pictures. They then said they wanted to take a biopsy. I’m glad I had someone come in with me – having someone else listening to what they were saying and watching what they were doing.
Laying there waiting for the biopsy, I was cringing at the nice consultant explaining what they were going to do. It involved shooting a thin apple core-type instrument into me at lightning speed, to take the tissue out to analyse. I will be perfectly honest with you – I was NOT looking forward to it one bit. I was a wimp. But it was numbed with some anaesthetic, and although it bled a little, it was fine and not too uncomfortable.
The nurses and consultant that took the biopsy were very non-committal about what they could see. Their faces didn’t give away ANYTHING, and when asked they just said they ‘weren’t sure what it was so need to get everything checked – just to be absolutely sure’. So, I just had to go away and wait for the results. For two weeks.
That time frame appears A LOT through this. Everything seemed to take two weeks. And I now know why, but at the time it felt like the longest wait of my life.
Two days after the biopsy, my boob was so SO painful. The bruising of the procedure had come out and it was the size of an orange but a rainbow of colours!
The reason for the two weeks is simple at Poole Hospital. You have your tests, which usually take a week to come back. If they’re back before the following Tuesday, your case and results are discussed at the big Tuesday Management Meeting (MDT) that morning. You are then either called to come back, or told you’ll get a letter in the post explaining findings. Just because you’re called back in doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad news of course. I received a letter to come back into the unit on Monday, 14 November.
That two-week period dragged. I kept busy with the children, work, everything as normal as it could be. I’d spoken to a couple of close friends and told them that I’d gone for the procedure. I made out I wasn’t worried – the question ‘what if it’s cancer?’ went through my head of course, but the response ‘it’s not going to be’ was forefront. And I actually became a little relaxed and talked myself into it NOT being Cancer, as the day dawned.
Until the day dawned.
My Husband went into work for a couple of hours that morning, as I had an early doctors’ appointment to get the blood test results of something totally unrelated, so that that fitted in with normality of the school run.
Now that Doctor, who happened to be the one who I’d seen for everything over the last 10 years, knew me very well, and the family. But I hadn’t seen him at all about the lump. Mainly just bad timing and full appointment slots. He confirmed that thankfully the test results for my annual MOT were normal apart from slightly raised cholesterol and didn’t say much else.
Then he said, ‘right tell me where you’re at with the referral to the Ladybird Unit’. So, I filled him in and that I was heading off to collect Husband and head on down to the unit for the results.
He wished me good luck and said he was sure everything will get sorted and hoped I’d be ok.
Hello??? Why didn’t the alarm bells ring at that point??
I subsequently found out, when he rang me at home from late surgery that day, that he could see the histology on screen and new the results.
He said it took all his professional training not to tell me that morning. He said he found it hard not to give anything away. It wasn’t his place to.
I drove up to pick up my Husband and we got down to the Unit in plenty of time.
Surely it can’t be Cancer…?
Oh, the waiting. And more waiting. The 10.30 am appointment at the clinic was running over and it was now 11 o’clock. How dare you keep me waiting?!? Don’t you know it’s hard enough knowing you’re waiting for results, let alone putting up with appointments running late?!
An attitude I learned to get rid of, you’ll be pleased to hear, and to be fair – after this appointment – waiting was the least of my problems and I got used to it. It actually didn’t seem to bother me. These appointments shouldn’t be rushed.
I was quiet. The waiting was excruciating. But it was a busy waiting room and I was just people watching, trying not to think of what awaited me.
People being called through by the nurses for consultations, tests; it seemed to be a busy morning in the clinic.
It was just after 11 o’clock now and while we were waiting, a nurse had come out and spoken to a few of us to apologise for the delay. Then my name was called. And my stomach churned.
We sat in the side room and the Consultant Surgeon came through and examined me again. She had a softly spoken voice and I had learned she was Clinical Lead for the Breast Unit, so I had to believe she knew her stuff.
My Husband sat in the chair, and I sat on the edge of the bed, then she just got to the point.
‘We have had all the tests back and it IS a Cancer in there… Is that something that you’d thought much about?’.
I wobbled and said, ‘well yes it had gone through my mind but never thought it would come back as that’. And promptly burst into tears.
There is no history of Breast Cancer in my family. In fact there is no history of Cancer at all apart from my Grandad who died of Pancreatic Cancer in 1981. And the hospital has already said that was irrelevant for me. So why? And what the hell happens now??
The Surgeon said the next important line:
‘The good thing is it’s treatable. That’s what you need to think about. Now we have a lot to discuss so get yourself dressed and we’ll go through it’.
They left us alone. I looked at my husband. We just couldn’t believe it.
I had Stage 2 mixed Invasive Lobular/Ductal Breast Cancer.
Next: Decisions – Choices?