The Journey starts here
Extract from diary.
Sunday 23rd November 2014
Find a little hard lump in left breast. Hm. Doesn’t hurt.
Monday 24th Nov
Dr appointment 12.10. Dr is my second best choice. I trust him but he doesn’t show much personality. He’s five patients behind so I go home for coffee. He feels the lump, says, ‘ It’s hard, maybe a fibroma?’. Refers me for an ultrasound in Berwick, Thursday 3.20 pm. Look up fibroma once I remember what he’d said. None the wiser.
Thursday 27th Nov
Ultrasound. Nice young man (sounds so patronising!). Not at all communicative. He zeroes in on the lump, does measuring and scans the rest of my breast and armpit very carefully. The report will reach my Dr on Friday. I’m going away with a friend to join a group of women walking at Mt Hotham so it will have to wait till I arrive home next week. I will deal with whatever - after I have enjoyed my weekend.
I ring for an appointment only to find that Dr number 2 and my own Dr are both on holiday next week. Fine. So I ask for the report to be sent to them and third choice Dr. See her on Tuesday.
I pack for the weekend away and wonder how much I will tell my friend. Her husband is recovering from a cancer operation right now. I feel OK, not going to panic, but I don’t sleep well. Husband is concerned but taking his cue from me.
Tuesday 2nd December
Dr 3rd choice today. We look at the pictures and the lump is clearly visible. It measures 10 x 11 x 12mm, bigger than I thought. It feels like a pea, exactly as in the Breastscreen demo I attended years ago. The report says there’s a ‘suspicion of malignancy’ so now I have to see the specialist –tomorrow- for a biopsy.
I also have to see the specialist who put me on HRT years ago, as some studies found a link between HRT and breast lumps.
I call a few people and cancel everything for this week. I’m still very calm, possibly dissociating, I feel like an observer. Nothing is confirmed yet, I’m not even saying the word.
Wednesday 3rd December
Biopsy day. We only have to go as far as Dandenong. I like the surgeon. He has a deep voice and a quiet authority that gives me confidence. He explains exactly what he will do and gives me a local anaesthetic. I watch on the ultrasound screen as the hollow needle reaches the dark patch and there’s a loud click, familiar to any woman who’s had a pap smear. No pain, no bruising, not even later, despite the warning there might be. I will see him for the results on Friday. He rings his favourite radiologist and arranges for me to have a mammogram tomorrow.
At home I cuddle an ice pack and have a nap as instructed.
Thursday 4th December
Hm, I’m over this already. I’m scheduled for a mammogram in Berwick, close by. I cheerfully tell my husband they usually take ten minutes. Not this one. The area of interest is on the edge of the breast, described as at 3 o’clock. It is a difficult area to manoevre onto the plate. I have to lean back here and sideways then forward a bit, shoulder off the edge and chin up and hold my breath while she squashes my breast as far as possible. Four plates are done.
Then I am passed along the corridor to the radiologist for another ultrasound, this time on the right breast, for comparison. This breast is having a sore day, as they do, but the procedure is not too uncomfortable.
Then I am told that Dr has ordered another mammogram, on the right breast, so we have a full set. I have to return after lunch. Another 4 contortions and I am through. I never want to see this place again.
At home after another nap, I figure I’d better call my adult children and tell them without alarming them. Not possible. My daughter invites us over for dinner where our granddaughters distract us all from the serious stuff. The six year old has good antennae and wants to know what’s going on, the four year old informs her that I have a lump in my boob (she listened in) which they both want to see and then feel. Oh well, it’s educational I suppose.
A loud explosion at bedtime turns out to be an earthquake centred on our town. 3.6 on the scale. Seems appropriate.
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.