Part 1. January – the preamble
2018 was seen in with my kids and beautiful friends. We drank (mainly the adults), we danced, we laughed, we took loads of ridiculous photos and we looked ahead to what we had decided was going to be a loads better year than 2017. On Jan 1st my friends hung out for most of the day, helped me take the tree down, cooked breakie and we talked about fun plans.
On January 2nd I found a lump in my right breast. I was in the shower doing my usual routine. Jan 3rd I saw my GP. She said what I had thought, that it was very likely a cyst. I spoke only to my oldest friend and went to an appointment the following week at the breast clinic not feeling overly concerned. The consultant prodded around and stuck a needle in the lump and followed up swiftly, there and then, by telling me the lump was a solid mass. That was the first moment of fear, and it set right in. I went straight to my best friend’s house – she had just got back from a long work trip – and I cried, she hugged me, we talked and we drank.
My mum got back from a work trip that same night and the next morning I made a lame excuse to have coffee with her. I’d held off telling her anything as I thought, hoped, there’d be nothing to worry her with. She immediately said she’d come to my next appointment which I knew would be the case and was what I needed.
On January 16th I returned to the breast clinic, one of the best in the UK, here in Brighton. Mum and I were anxious but as soon as I was mid-mammogram I was laughing with the woman about the bizarre nature of it all, and the fact that she’d previously crunched numbers as an accountant and now crunches breasts in a barbaric machine! A consultant then did an ultrasound. Mum was outside. He and the nurse were lovely and there was a cheeky moment as he thought I was talking to him when I asked ‘did you grow up in Brighton’? I immediately told him I could tell by his accent he was from Portslade – he had a rich Greek accent. He giggled while he scanned my inflamed lymph gland and simultaneously reassured me.
Dr Greece then let me know he was going to do a biopsy there and then. That’s when the fear returned. The sound of a biopsy is akin to a staple gun and it’s procedure to let you hear it before they go ahead. After numbing both the boob and armpit that thing painlessly punctured my lump 5 times and my lymph 3. It sounded violent and I cried, they told me it was really normal and in trying to find my ‘happy place’ I thought of me and my best friend dancing at a club night without a care in the world.
They explained everything to me. I asked lovely Dr Greece to go and tell my mum everything he’d told me so we’d remember. I got dressed and sat crying with the lovely nurse who was doing her very best to reassure me. She left when my mum came in and when we were alone I crumbled. I still didn’t have a diagnosis, just fear.
My appointment to get the results of these tests was 2 weeks and one day later, January 31st. Those 2 weeks were fucking horrible. I told my boss and 2 close colleagues what was going on as there were moments when I was an emotional wreck. They were all so lovely. I told 2 more besties and everyone did their utmost to support me. We all knew why it was messing with my head so much.
I hid my bruising from my beautiful girls knowing any hint of lump issues would freak them, especially my 14 year old. They sadly both know too much about cancer scenarios that haven’t been curable and I knew that’s where their heads would take them. Some days I told myself it was a fibroadenoma and my lymph gland was swollen following the nasty December virus. Some days I thought ALL the the things and my head span.
On January 31st my head was clear and strong.