I found a lump and thought that I had better make a GP appointment – I wasn’t worried at all. When I saw the GP, a lady, she examined me and I was surprised to see that she had a concerned face. The lump was pea sized and I thought it was a harmless cyst. I had read that 9/10 breast lumps are harmless. She referred me to the breast centre at the hospital, which she said was procedure. There was a 2 week wait.
I wasn’t anxious, but I did have a voice in my head telling me that I should enjoy the family times that we were having, as I didn’t know when I would have them again. I lived in the moment and took the time to stop and look and just enjoy, rather than being busy busy like I usually am. Thankfully this time coincided with the Easter holidays and some unseasonably sunny and warm weather.
I was not looking forward to the two-hour hospital appointment, as knew I would have a biopsy as well as other tests, but was still not anxious.
When I got to the breast centre, a doctor examined me and then I went to a different waiting room. There were three other ladies sitting there – all at least 20 years older than me.
Then I was called to have an ultrasound. The doctor was very nice, and had even been to my old home town of Pietermaritzburg, which he said was lovely. He said I should have a mammogram and then come back to him for the biospy. The mammogram was fine, not sore. The radiographer was chatty and put me at ease.
Then I went back for the biopsy. My husband Mike arrived – he had had to work first thing. The doctor ended up taking three biospies of the two lumps (a second lump had appeared in the two week wait), and he said that he thought the lymph nodes were normal, but just in case, he would take a sample of them. I did think that that was unusual but still didn’t feel worried.
There were a few other people in the room too – all radiographers I think, including a student.
I found watching the ultrasound quite interesting and didn’t mind the biopsies- they weren’t painful. A nice radiographer kept asking if I was ok.
Then Mike and I were ushered into a tiny side room for a few minutes. We were brought cups of tea and coffee in nice (non-disposable) mugs, which is when I realised that something must be wrong.
Soon we saw a consultant who examined me again and asked about Mike’s business.
Then he sat us down and said that he was concerned. In fact he was very concerned. He said that the biopsy results would take one week, and I would see him then; but he did think that I had cancer.
That was a weird moment because although I had had little alarm bells ringing for a while, I had thought that I was such low risk that I would probably be ok. Also I felt perfectly healthy.
Mike asked if I would need to stop breastfeeding, and the consultant said I should. That is when I cried, because I knew that my daughter (22 months) would be upset. I had only kept feeding for the past several months because she really wanted to and found it such a comfort. I did stop that day, and actually it has been a lot easier than I thought, except at night when she wakes up and then can’t settle again. That’s not so good.
The doctor said that he would order a CT and bone scan right away, to make sure that the cancer had not spread. Usually they would only order them after getting the biopsy results.
We then spoke to the breast cancer nurse and asked lots of questions. We went home both in shock and told our families first, and later our close friends. We just came out with it – no use trying to sugar coat anything.