Sunday, 4 December 2016

The Cancer Train

I have been missing for a while in crafting land, and the title for this post will give a clue to the reason. I have thought long and hard about creating this post, but if it makes one woman think about the situation she finds herself in, and she makes an appointment to see a doctor then that will make it worth while.

This is all about breast cancer and when you get the diagnosis. It is like being put on a train and not being able to get off or know where it is going. It will not even slow down to at least find some enjoyment in the ride.

I actually did not find a lump but if you do you have to get it checked out. The health authorities are starting to write to women earlier than the age of 50, now from 47, to offer them an early mammogram. I received one of these offers and you are told you do not have to take up the appointment as you would be contacted again at the age of 50. I made the choice to take up the offer and went to the mammogram. I figure these people are doing the scans day in and day out and have seen boobs all the time, and mine are nothing special and quite small. It was a lady that completed the scan and it took 5 minutes tops, I spent longer in the waiting room than the actual scan took, just two pictures for each side and off you go.

The scary part happened exactly one week later when I received a letter asking me to attend an appointment as something had been spotted on the mammogram. The train journey starts. The appointment was very quick, I had my first mammogram on a Monday, the following Monday I had a letter from the hospital asking me to attend again on the Thursday of that same week. I have a fabulous family and I saw no point in keeping this to myself so I told them what was happening. My sister came with me to this call back appointment. I did not take her in with me when I saw the consultant and had an examination by him. He told me something had been seen in one breast, which looked like calcium spots and I was asked to lay down to have an examination. He marked 4 small dots and told me I would next go to ultra sound to get these checked and they may take samples. This was all very scary and I went back to the waiting room.

For the ultra sound I asked my sister if she would come in with me. I hate the thought of it and hope it never happens, but if she had to go through this I wanted her to see everything. Education and knowledge can help you face things a little easier and take away the fright of the unknown. I hope I can go through the unknown to help someone else be less frightened.

The ultra sound was ok. Nurses and radiographers are all very gentle with you and talk you through every step. After the scan she told me the area explained to me by the consultant can be seen on the scan and she would use the scanner to take 3 or 4 samples. A local anesthetic was used and they inserted a hollow needle, and a loud click noise was heard each time a sample was taken. I could feel something but nothing was extremely painful, it was over quickly with each click and a slight twinge only, it was just uncomfortable to lay still for 10 minutes or so. The breast was lumpy in the days after this and I was bruised. I knew after this ultra sound that I had something bad. I told my sister how I knew and it helped slightly at the results appointment which was only 7 days after this appointment. I told you the train was fast.

The results showed I had high grade DCIS. It is an early non-invasive or pre-invasive cancer. If they are not treated the cells may develop the ability to spread and become invasive breast cancer. I did not want this inside me. It was an upsetting appointment and I had my husband with me. I was told I could have a lumpectomy and an appointment for an operation would be sent with in 30 days. The operation was on  a Thursday exactly one month after the mammogram and I worked the whole time to keep my mind off things. At work this whole thing was not happening then on the drive home it all came back again.

The day of the operation I will admit I was not in a good place I just wanted it over. My husband was with me and I was all marked up for the operation and I was told that the committee was not in agreement about my treatment, they thought a mastectomy would be better and a lumpectomy was not going to work. I was devastated that the op was cancelled and I was given options of a mastectomy with a reconstruction at a different hospital or just a mastectomy. I was sent home to think about it and had to call back with a choice. I was told this only happens 1 or 2 times a year and they were sorry I was lead down the path of a lumpectomy.

After a long 3 week wait the operation of my choice was made and I was told the area of DCIS was larger than I was first told so the lumpectomy would not have worked and I would have had to have another operation. I was also told it had not spread to the tissues or lymph nodes and I did not have to under go Chemo or radiotherapy. I can at last get off the train and life can carry on. I am not the same as before any more but I have a new 'normal'.

Thanks to my husband and family for the love, support and help given during this time. Thanks to my employer who also let me work and when I returned to work 3 weeks post op, knew I was not quite mended but let me do what I could manage. I am now 2 months post op and hope I carry on as well as I have been.

Do not put off getting checked out, go and find help, get tested. Stay as strong as you can through the whole journey wherever your train takes you. I know I have been lucky and not all people will be, but I hope you can find someone to help and support you through everything. xx