So … as some of you will remember, a couple of years ago, I shaved my hair off to raise money for Cop a Feel https://strangemadeup.com/2017/10/16/copp-a-feel/
This is a subject I am pretty passionate about, mostly because I was caught with a lump in my breast in my twenties. That isn’t to say that breast cancer was a new idea to me. My mother trained as a nurse and had shared some horror stories growing up. However, I can be a tad complacent when it comes to health because I have no family history. Something my mother complains about when she thinks about her current list of ailments (A list far longer than a middle aged woman should have, apparently.).
As usual, I digress. I had a couple of days off at the end of February and decided to make a GP appointment in my time off for a few things that have been niggling me. One of these things is a lump in my left arm pit. This is not new, I had first noticed it as a teenager, and was dismissed by my GP, telling me that he wouldn’t have it removed because what teenager wants a scar in her armpit..
So anyways, I have grown up with this lump and it has caused some dis-figuration. But the reason that I wanted to speak to someone is because it had been causing me some pain, and look at the possibility of it being removed. I saw a locum doctor who told me that this would need to be checked in the breast clinic, and a letter with an appointment would follow.
So far, so good. Except for the phone call that afternoon by the practice secretary telling me that an emergency appointment had been made for me at the breast cancer clinic. Now if that isn’t a sobering call to receive.
So to time line this, my GP appointment was on Monday, 24th February. I was seen at the hospital on 6th March.
Now this was … this was an expereince. I don’t want to scare or worry anyone, I just feel that if I am going to write at all, I want it to be reflection of my person experience.
I was called into the consulting room and asked to undress. Not going to lie, I thought I would t least speak to the consultant initially fully dressed. The consult came into the room and asked if a junior doctor could sit in. Not a problem for me, everyone has to learn.
Now this bit, this is … so I was asked a few basic questions, nothing really, that couldn’t be gleaned from my notes. I would say that there was a slight lack of bedside manners but I also understand that these clinics are very busy. I was lying down, having met this doctor moments before when he started checking my breasts, clinical but I still felt violated, like a slab of meat on a chopping board. I am, for once, not being melodramatic. He assessed that there isn’t anything serious, just some breast tissue that has migrated. And my first thought was “could y’all not stay in your lane?”.
I was directed to the breast clinic for scan, this is now familiar footing for me, in my first breast cancer scare, I was biopsied and scanned in the first instance and never actually saw a doctor! So I was called into a clinical room, again, undressed, positioned and the clinician for this part of my day was so calm and relaxing. She did a scan, and had a look at the lump. More because of the dubious history (is this new, or is this the same lump?) she recommended a biopsy to rule out any concerns. I could hear the nurses and HCA’s laughing and joking outside and it actually helped me relax, knowing that they clearly have a good working relationship.
Now, well the biopsy was something else. When I had the lump in my breast biopsied, that was not fun, not at all. Not a little bit. And I had expressed my concerns. However, this was a whole new ball game and the implement that was designed to take the biopsy .. I didn’t look because, frankly I can’t stand needles and having the implant is bad enough. But I can tell you what it feels like!
Have you had your ears pierced with a gun? It is exactly that sensation. A punching sensation but it didn’t hurt. It was just odd. Similar to dental work, you can’t feel any pain but the movement?
So anyways, I chatted again to the nurse as I got dressed and got sent back over to the main clinic. That was short and sweet, I was told that a follow up appointment would be made with my results, but again, dismissively rather that reassuringly, telling me he didn’t feel it was anything to worry about.
Sidebar – I am the worst for making doctor appointments, I will only do it when absolutely necessary. And that is because I have time, and again, been treated like a hypochondriac. Which I could understand if they saw me more often. Its an appointment every 3 years if that..
So anyways, there we are waiting for a letter, for a followup appointment… eventually one comes, cal I attend on 18th March.
I saw another consultant this time, again in the consulting room, sat on the bed, so I was genuinely worried I was due for another exam. But no, the good news is that the lump is benign, and they would remove it (post lockdown) and in the meantime, to monitor and let my GP know if it got worse.
And so .. this is my concern, could this not better have been handled with a phone call, it was good news, there wasn’t a clinical reason to have me reattend and I would have saved some time?
So that is my story, and what I want to reiterate to you, is that please, check your boobs and your pits, if you have any lumps, swelling, heat, anything abnormal (that is, not normal for your boobs!) please call your doctor. I realise that I am writing this in the middle of a lockdown but you will need to address it and make sure you are checked out!