The news no one wants to hear
04 Sep 2013
Let’s rewind a month or so to late August/early September 2013. We had just come back from a fabulous holiday to America – Washington, New York and Boston, to celebrate Simon’s 40th back in June, our 15th Wedding Anniversary back in early August and my 40th next March.
Jet lag was kicking in big time but it was nearly time to go back to work and school after the six weeks holiday. However something wasn’t quite right with my right boob so I knew I had to make a doctor’s appointment. I made one for the 11th September, but something told me to check their online booking system that weekend and lo and behold there was an appointment with a doctor I like at 7.25pm on Monday 2nd September, brilliant!
So I booked it, thankful that I wouldn’t have to wait as long to get checked out. The 2nd arrived and I somehow made it through the training day at work before tootling off to the doctors that evening. Like me the doctor couldn’t feel a lump as such, more a thickening which she said was very common, probably nothing to worry about but we should check it out properly just to put my mind at rest.
I asked her to refer me up to Wansbeck which was going to be 10th September, such a long wait for impatient old me so she checked Rake Lane only to find an appointment for the 4th September.
I think someone was looking out for me, pushing me to get it looked at sooner rather than later! So on the first official day back at school after six weeks holiday I had to ask my bosses for a morning off but understandably I didn’t want to explain why. Luckily I have a good sickness record so they knew I wouldn’t have asked if it wasn’t important but it wasn’t a great start to the new school year.
On the morning of the 4th we arrived at the hospital at 9.45am at the Out-Patients department. I know now that within this department is a Breast Clinic with quite a considerable amount of staff working in it. We were shown into a room where I was examined by a doctor (whose bedside manner left a little to be desired but more on that later) and then sent for mammograms.
Four mammograms later we were sent for an ultra sound scan. It was during this scan that I personally figured it was going to be bad news and perhaps prepared myself. After scanning my right boob and going back to concentrate on one particular area he moved to the other one and scanned this one quite quickly before moving back to the aforementioned area where he spent a considerable amount of time.
After this scan we had to wait around to be given a sealed letter before being sent back to the Breast Clinic to hand in the letter for the doctor to read before being taken into the room to be given the verdict. We were kept waiting quite a while and at this point I knew for sure.
By the time we were called, the Breast Care Nurse had been called in to be there whilst the news was given. So we were now back in the room with the doctor with the rather poor bedside manner and the Nurse who I later found out was a Macmillan Breast Care Nurse.
Now you can’t sugar coat the news that someone has cancer and I know these guys deal with this issue every day so to them it is probably no big deal as they can do such amazing things these days but I was told “We believe it to be a cancer, you will need a mastectomy and this will likely be followed by further treatment, this lady is a Breast Care Nurse and she will take you to another room and speak to you”……….whooaahhhh REWIND!!!!! Like I say, his bedside manner wasn’t the best!
Now at this point, whilst slightly stunned, I actually remained what I think was reasonably calm and I have to thank a lovely friend of mine Minnie for playing a big part in that reaction. I went to university in Nottingham with the lovely Minnie and sadly she went through this horrid experience a few years back. Her husband Dave kept a blog of their journey and I followed it avidly, it was a fantastic way of keeping everyone up to date with Minnie’s “adventures” and was also really educational (sorry Minnie and Dave for copying you in writing this blog but I can guarantee it won’t be nearly as good as Dave’s).
So upon hearing the dreadful news my first thought was “well Minnie did it recently so I’ll be fine”. Now this has nothing to do with the fact that Minnie is a southern softie and I’m a hard as nails Geordie, honest! But the fact that Minnie had beaten this gave me such strength and hope and I honestly believe this helped me there and then in that room. Thank you Minnie xx
I think between us Simon and I managed to ask a few simple questions but the Doctor wasn’t very forthcoming so we were sent off with the Breast Care Nurse to a quiet room, and to be honest quiet was how I stayed…….I know, yes I was quiet!! The Breast Care Nurse was probably trying to weigh us up.
Were we people who needed to know everything or as little as possible, were we going to be able to take on board what was said to us, were we going to be able to face this or fall to pieces? What a hard job that must be and to be fair she probably didn’t ascertain much about us on that occasion. It was probably about midday by now and I’d been asked to come back in at 3pm that afternoon for biopsies so we just left to go home.
The first job was to tell my parents who we would need to pick Kyle and Leo up from school. That was an awful thing to have to do. They knew I was at the hospital and the reason why but like the rest of us they weren’t expecting that news and were understandably stunned and shocked. Of course we all had a million questions whizzing round in our heads but no answers. As someone who likes to know the full picture at all times this was particularly hard, especially as it meant I couldn’t answer other people’s questions. My parents kindly told my brother and other family members which was a big help although that can’t have been easy for them.
So back we went for 3.00pm, only to be told they were behind schedule, by an hour and a half, deep joy! So back we went for 4.30pm. The biopsies took nearly two hours, all four of them. The Doctor who did them was lovely and answered a couple of our questions too which was a help. At this point I learnt I had 3 tumours, one was 1.5cm, one was 1.0cm and one was 0.5cm. They covered an area of about 6.0cm and were close to the skin hence the need for the mastectomy. So eight local anaesthetics, four core needle biopsies and three titanium marker implants later I emerged feeling wrung out and battered.
I had to have another mammogram before I left to check they had an image of the titanium markers and then it was off home, what a day eh! It now makes me smile every time I hear the David Guetta song “I am Titanium”.
We had decided to keep this from the kids for the time being. Not having any of our own questions answered yet it seemed unfair to tell them anything at the moment. However I’d been off work for the day, it was late and they had had an impromptu visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s for the evening. When Simon brought them home I was on the settee in my dressing gown with a bag of frozen peas under my armpit! “Mam hurt her arm and has been to hospital” was what we told them and off they went to bed without flinching. Poor things, I was dreading telling them the real reason.
Go back to blogs