Sunday, 24 October 2010
Just starting out
I was diagnosed with Grade 2 multi-focal invasive lobular and ductal breast cancer on 14th October 2010. A day that will be etched on my memory for a very long time! I will remember it simply as the day that my life changed, although if you asked me what anyone told me beyond the word cancer, I don't think I could tell you.
How did it start?
Like many women, I found a lump in my breast during my regular monthly check and immediately made an appointment to see my GP. I was convinced she would tell me it was a cyst so I was not prepared to be told that it needed checking out pretty quickly. What followed after that was several weeks of tests and waiting. It was like a form of torture because you cannot think of anything else whilst you wait for that all important piece of news.
Even at the very start I was still convinced that everything would turn out okay, after all I am not in either of the high risk categories (under 40 or post-menopausal) but as time went on I started to worry more. My first trip to the local breast clinic gave me a clue that it wasn't going to be a simple thing. I was in the ultrasound room for ages - everyone else was coming out after about 20 mins. Then after having a mammogram (ouch!) I was told to go back for a further ultrasound and was in there for nearly 3/4 hour. At the end of which the doctor told me that he had never seen anything as complex and needed to go and consult a more senior colleague. This led to a trip to a larger regional hospital where I had a stereotactic guided series of biopsies and yet more ultrasound. The doctor was lovely but she was very, very reticent when I tried to get her to tell me what she thought it might be.
The final clue that something was wrong was when the Breast Care Nurse from my local hospital phoned and asked me to go to the clinic the same afternoon to discuss 'choices.' It all went down hill from there and the bad news just kept on coming! The surgeon was super; very kind and understanding when he explained that it was likely that I would need a full mastectomy but that he still needed to do a further biopsy on two other parts of my breast and he did that straight away. The next thing I know I have got my operation date (10th November) and then the final bombshell was dropped when the nurse told us very gently that I had a provisional Grade 2 invasive lobular and ductal carcinomas, along with a Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) and cancerous micro calcifications. It was such a shock and there was no question of me having anything other than a mastectomy but now instead of having a simple Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy I was going to need a full axillary clearance removing most or all of the underarm lymph nodes. On top of all of this there is a good chance that I will need to have chemotherapy too. At this point any pretence of being 'strong' just dissolved, I felt bewildered and just numb about it all.
And that's where I am just now - living in what seems like a surreal dream. I just cannot believe that this is happening to me. I have crappy health anyway so what did I do to deserve this?? The answer is of course, 'absolutely nothing,' because like me, you can live a healthy, active life-style, eat sensibly, not smoke, drink in moderation and still end up with cancer. It's bad luck, plain and simple and there is nothing you can do about it, except follow the advice you are given and get on with having the treatment.