It all starts HERE…

Posted: June 10, 2012 in The Big C
Tags: , ,

David Shrigley – Worried noodles

I discovered ‘the lump’ in my breast a few weeks ago. Like most women I get lumpy breasts & a visit to my GP reassured me that it was probably just hormones. After all, I’m only 38, far too young to get breast cancer. If I did, I was sure I could do a Kylie Minogue and rock the – ‘yes I’ve got cancer, but I’m dealing with this’ – scarf/shades look.

I was more concerned with ongoing pain in my pelvic region, which my GP had been unable to diagnose. An unhealthy combination of net doctor & hypochondria had enabled me to self diagnose an ovarian cyst. With this in mind, I set aside a whole day to get everything scanned, probed, tweaked and sampled.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried. There was a 50/50 chance that they’d find something, but I’m overly optimistic about most things, so I was hopeful they’d find nothing.

My Buddhist meditation teacher wisely advised “there’s no point stressing about the unknown, deal with it when you have the facts”. I sensibly ignored this advice and spent the night before, in the pub, mentally preparing myself for my not so fun-day Friday.

There’s nothing dignified about the examination process. Having your breasts sandwiched very tightly between two metal plates, whilst contorting your head, arms and opposite boob out-of-the-way is a tricky manoeuvre for an amateur like me. The not very patient nurse, asked if this was my first time and did nothing to ease my discomfort. After the mammogram, the ultrasound was a breeze, however the ominous look on the consultants’ face confirmed my worst fears. When they asked me to stay for a biopsy I realised things were getting serious.

The biopsy involved freezing my boob and taking small pellets of flesh with a gun. The lovely Dundonian consultant made small talk with me: “Have you ever thought about moving back to Scotland?”.  In hindsight I realise this was a loaded question and he probably already knew. It was during the biopsy that the doctor uttered the dreaded “if it’s cancer” and “have you got someone who can be with you?”.

They told me to come back in an hour for the result and I spent the next half hour frantically trying to contact friends and family and luckily managed to get hold of a friend who works at the hospital. Two hours after arriving for a supposed routine check-up, I was told I have breast cancer. It was that simple.

The next couple of days were quite surreal, this kind of thing happens to people in soap operas or films. I didn’t sleep a wink that first night. I was inconsolable. Family and friends held me together & jubilee celebrations aside, I decided to go ahead with everything I’d planned that weekend.

The following day we went walking in the Peak district and I commented that the sky looked like it was falling in. For me it really was.

After initially feeling that I had to tell everyone, I realised that the fewer people who knew, the better. Dealing with the emotional fallout from other people is difficult when you haven’t worked things out for yourself. I spent my jubilee weekend quietly working out how I was going to deal with the ‘thing’ growing inside my breast.

My friend Imelda said something really profound which put things in perspective that weekend: ” Life throws a lot of shit at you, this is just another piece of shit you have to wipe off!”

  1. amykaboo says:

    Great phrase from Imelda. My friend once said ‘grab the mast and hold on tight, you’re in for a rough ride!’

  2. Amazing issues here. I’m very glad to see your post.
    Thanks a lot and I’m taking a look forward to contact you.
    Will you please drop me a mail?

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