I thought I would write this post about an experience that I had in the hope that it will help to reassure others when in the same situation. It is also one of the reasons that I am taking part in the Shine Night Walk Marathon. I did the 5k race for life a couple of years ago and it was such an empowering experience and really inspiring day. This year I thought I would push myself and do the 10k as well as the muddy version, all in the same weekend. Am I mad?!
My friend Astrid then told me about the Shine Night Walk - an inspiring event and something amazing to train for and raise money for. I am not an expert in this matter, this is purely an account of what happened to me and how I felt. I hope if you are going through something similar that you know you’re not alone.
It started off a while ago now when I started to read a blog by a girl who went to my school. She is younger than me and was diagnosed with breast cancer and I found her blog posts really hard hitting and interesting to see her going on her journey and being so strong and brave. She brought awareness to myself about how important it is to regularly check your breasts and since her blog went live I have made an extra effort to check myself. I realised it can happen at any age. I thank her for bringing this awareness to the younger generation.
I noticed a dull ache in my left breast so decided to check myself. I couldn’t find anything so forgot about it but it was playing on my mind. I then got my partner to check and he couldn’t feel anything out of the ordinary. I then waited a few more days and had another feel and finally I found a solid lump. As you can imagine, this was terrifying. I cried and as it was just before Christmas I thought I would wait until after to stop me worrying. Of course the worry didn’t subside so the next day I booked an appointment with the Nurse Practitioner.
I had been crying all morning and was so worried so I took my mum to the appointment with me for some support. James did offer to come but I didn’t want to mess up his work schedule just for me. We walked into the nurses office and she was lovely. She asked a few questions about the history of my family and luckily mum was there to answer them for me. Having had breast cancer herself, this obviously increased the risk for me. The nurse pulled a curtain around a section of the room and I undressed my top half. She told me to lay down on the bed and point out where I found the lump. She had a feel around and soon found the lump I had mentioned, but on inspection she did say that I generally had quite nodular breasts anyway so it could just be how they are. She couldn’t feel any other areas of concern. I told her this lump was new which is why it worried me and at the end of my visit she had referred me to the hospital to see a specialist. I was told my appointment would be in the next 2 weeks and I had hoped it wouldn’t clash with any Christmas plans. I awaited my phone call.
In the days leading up to my phone call I found myself obsessing over the lump and constantly feeling it to make sure it was there which then made it painful. There were times when I thought it had disappeared and then I would find it again. My GP appointment was on the Friday, my phone call came on Tuesday the following week and I was booked in for my appointment on the Thursday. All in all, 6 days. Hats off to the NHS as I thought that was brilliant, especially to get me in before Christmas.
When I arrived on the day of my appointment I got parked up and made my way to the right area. I had my mum with me and she knew where we were going. I checked in and was given a sheet of questions to fill out before I saw the doctor. Before I even had a chance to finish the questionnaire, I was called through. I had to take off my upper clothing and put on a fetching gown. My mum came in with me and sat on the other side of the curtain. I saw a man called Dr Hussien (I think). He asked me where the problem area was and got me to lie down. He examined both of the breasts but couldn’t find anything that stood out to him. He could feel the lump I had pointed out but said it felt normal to him, but would refer me to ultrasound to put my mind at ease.
I had to go back to reception and they then told me where to go next. I went down the hall and checked in at another reception and was told to wait. I had no idea how long I would be here, but another lady went up to the desk and said “I’ve been waiting for over an hour, how long will it be?” and the receptionist said that it was quite normal and some have waited up to 3 hours. In the end it was about an hour and a half later until I was seen for the ultrasound. A female led me through, this time I left mum in the waiting room, and told me to take off my upper clothes again and cover myself with a towel and lay on the bed which I did. A male then entered the room and he asked me to point out the area and cross referred this with the doctors notes. He applied some gel and ran the ultrasound over my breast where I had found the lump. He kept rolling it around trying to get a good shot and get as deep into the tissues as possible. He then asked me to look at the screen and showed me what normal tissue looked like and said he couldn’t see any areas of concern. All he could see were a couple of tiny cysts which weren’t worth doing anything with. He then left the room and I got dressed and the female gave me a leaflet on breast cysts. She said if I were to feel anything else then to go back, don’t ever assume it is just a cyst if a new lump was to appear.
When I left the ultrasound I had to go back to the original waiting room to speak to the doctor, thankfully this didn’t take too long. He called me in and had examined the photos from the ultrasound. He said that he couldn’t see any areas of concern and it all looked normal to him. He said the cysts were nothing to worry about too. I was so relieved. I walked out and told mum what had happened and both of us felt so much better. We then realised how hungry we were and we went and got lunch.
Thankfully on this occasion everything was fine, and I think the whole process was very fast and efficient. If you ever find anything please get it checked out as it may be nothing, and will put your mind at ease. Even if it is something, you’ve taken the first step in resolving it by visiting your GP. Since then I regularly check myself throughout the month.
I will be completing the Shine Night Walk for all those who unfortunately didn't get the results they hoped for. I hope that any money I can raise will go towards life-saving treatments. Please donate.