More biopsies

So we are back from our holiday in Seattle had a great time but jag lack is the pitts.

Back to 2015 and our holiday in France. Whilst away my son received his AS results. We had planning on going out to eat that night but the results were not good so we were all in a bit of a funk. My finger reached a crazy size so my husband had to cut off my wedding ring. Unfortunately it still kept getting bigger and meant that riding the bike was painful. The day before we were due to leave our gite (a few days earlier than originally planned) I phoned my doctors for an appointment and, amazingly, got offered one for the next day. Had to explain that I would still be in France then so could I come on the Thursday. Arrived home late on the Wednesday night.

Doctors first thing on the Thursday. Appointment was with a newly qualified doctor who didn’t have any idea what was wrong so she called in a colleague – it was the doctor who originally referred me to the breast clinic. He was apologising for the fact that I had cancer, he was convinced it was a cyst. I was just thankful that he referred me when he did. A few tears were shed at this point. No further forwards on the finger though.

Back to the hospital in the afternoon. Still nothing concrete. Biopsies of both breasts were inconclusive but they wanted to re-do the right side with a right handed doctor (the last one was left handed!). They did however discuss likely course of treatment.

Before holiday it was suggested I would have operation then hormone treatment, now they have decided on chemo, operation and radiotherapy but still not found the source of the cancer. Another wait for the outcome of the biopsies.

This year’s holiday was definitely not the normal for us. Usually we load up our estate car with fishing kit, bikes and musical instruments (yes we have been known to take cornet, French horn and euphonium on holiday) and stay in a gite in rural France for a few weeks. This year we flew to the USA and stayed in a house under the SeaTac flight path. Rather than relaxing (which you can do on a 3 week holiday) we spent every day off doing stuff. The weather in Seattle has been hot – we chose to go there as it wouldn’t be too hot. Walking at altitude in Mount Rainier park was hard work – the most exhausted I have been for years. Also visited Snoqalmie falls and North Bend where they filmed Twin Peaks.

As for the jet lag …. never realised it was so debilitating. I thought it was just being tired, not feeling sick as well. Anyway home in time for the youngest’s A level results – she is off to her first choice university next month.

 

 

 

 

Results

Friday 24th July 2015. I don’t think I will ever forget that date.

My husband and I returned to the breast clinic. We were shown into a small interview room and were joined by a specialist and one of the breast care nurses. Alarm bells should have rung at that point.

I was given those dreaded words, I’m sorry Mrs C traces of cancer were found in your lymph nodes. I just sat there in shock. This wasn’t meant to happen. We were taken to the “green room” for a quiet sit down to absorb the information. I have been in many IMGP0081egreen rooms but definitely prefer the ones in concert halls!

Whilst traces of cancer were found they could not tell me that it was definitely breast cancer. The mammogram was clear so more tests would need to be done to determine the source of the cancer cells. They had told me when I had the biopsies that I had dense breast tissue and this can make it more difficult to see tumours on the mammogram results. I was booked in for an MRI, CT scan and further biopsies.

Feeling very shell-shocked we returned home via my doctors surgery to try and make an appointment to get my coil removed – apparently this had nothing to do with the cancer but as the cells they found were hormone receptive I wanted it gone.

I left my husband to do the hard task – telling the kids! My daughter cried, my son just went quite.

Tonight we have a rehearsal for a friend’s wedding. My husband and I are both playing in a small group at the ceremony – one of my rare outings playing a drum kit. I will try not to take my emotions out on the drums, especially as I am using someone else’s, but today might feel like giving them a real battering.

 

First Appointment

As I mentioned in my last blog I was starting to get a bit twitchy about waiting for my doctor’s appointment so I phoned for a “48 hour access” appointment. Luckily I managed to get this with the doctor who specialised in skin cancer.

So I go to see the doctor and ask him to check an itchy mole on my left breast. He took one look and declared that there was nothing wrong there. Hooray.

Then I asked, while I’m here can you just check these funny bumps in my armpit”

He did.

“I don’t think it is anything to worry about. I am sure they are just cysts but I will make an appointment with the breast clinic just to make sure”

While he typed into the computer to send off my details we chatted about our kids and schools. Quite civilised.

So that was the Monday. The next day at work I had a call from the breast clinic making an appointment for me to attend an appointment 2 weeks later. Bit surprised it was that quick (I didn’t know then about the 2 week rule). I mentioned it to my boss – “I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about but I have to go to hospital for a mammogram” Turns out I am probably the only girl in our group who hadn’t had one. Apparently it is nothing to worry about.

Back at the doctors again next week. In order to see a particular doctor I made the appointment a month ago! It’s not urgent so I am not complaining. My surgery have always been very good if you have the need to see someone quickly, you just don’t necessarily get the choice of who.

At this point I would just like to remind all you ladies and gents to check for bumps and lumps and, if you find something out of the ordinary, please make that appointment with the doctors. Early detection is key.

 

Raising Awareness

Some people wonder why I talk about my cancer experience so much. The simple reason is that it saves lives.

Back in June 2015 I contacted a friend of mine to see if she could teach my 17 year old to drive. I had met Donna earlier that year at a brass band contest (yes brass bands again) and I told her I would be in touch later in the year.

Anyway when I phoned she told me that she was no longer teaching and in fact was about to undergo a double mastectomy. Rather than going into the details she then directed me to her blog – Just Get Rid

Of course I knew people, usually friends of friends, who had had breast cancer. Indeed I remember speaking to a colleague at work not long before this about a funeral she was going to for a friend who sadly died of breast cancer. These things always happed to someone else right?

Donna’s blog struck a chord with me though and something in the back of my mind started to nag. Then of course you wonder whether you are being a hypochondriac. The lump on my head was just some sort of cyst. Maybe the flu I had earlier in the year was a different strain to the one I had a vaccine for. My itchy mole on my left breast was a figment of my imagination.  The weird lumps in my armpit were just weird lumps – yes I was aware of them then.

iuWKVI4TS3These things whizzed round in my head – and I did nothing about it – I was an ostrich

This last week I have had headaches and dizziness. Again you get the “I’m just being a hypochondriac”  thoughts – recovering from my late night last week, too much sun, etc

Is my new normal to worry about every little thing. How do you know which little thing to worry about and which to ignore? Do you go to the doctors to be dismissed and then possible not return when there really is an issue. Do you go to the doctors and go through the worry of tests and results or do you bury you head in the sand and wait to see how you feel next week? (and I am feeling fine now!)

I am being an ostrich for the time being.