3. The ‘C’ word

On our return from the paddle boarding trip there was a letter for me from the Primrose Clinic which invited me to come to the clinic on 29th August for a follow up mammogram.  I wasn’t worried, if anything I was blasé… 57 women had their breasts imaged on the day I went and I genuinely thought it would be a smudge or a problem with the imaging.  The 29th August arrived and Nick and I made our way to Derriford Hospital and found the Primrose CIinic on level 7, very quickly I was invited to have another mammogram.  This time there were 2 images of my left breast pinned to the wall… the most recent one had a red circle on it.  Being nosey, instead of walking to the screening machine I looked at the images and asked the young radiographer if it was a) me and b) what was that in my left boob.  She said yes it was me and they weren’t sure so more images were required to find out.  Suddenly my confidence started to evaporate.

Tip:  Leave plenty of time to get to Derriford Hospital as the road works are a nightmare and it takes time to find a parking space.  Take a husband, partner, friend with you.

I returned to the waiting area to tell my husband that there was an image with a red circle highlighting a potential problem and within minutes, or so it seemed, I was being guided into the ultrasound room.  Black humour is my default position when facing something difficult and as I walked into the ultrasound room I was chuckling and saying “I hope it isn’t twins, as I’m a bit old for that malarkey”.  It was in fact triplets but not babies.  The consultant radiologist was charming and chatted all the while as I lay on the bed with one arm behind my head to give good access to my armpit as well as the breast.  We talked about schools, A levels, why medicine, why armpit as well as the breast.  We talked about schools, A levels, why medicine, why radiography…anything except breasts. Nick sat at the end of the bed and could see everything she could and he saw three dark masses which piqued the consultant’s interest.  She told me that a “punch biopsy” would be required to see what the masses were.  I asked if they were cysts and full of Sauvignon Blanc (a desperate attempt at my humour) to which she said no… my confidence was on it’s way out of the building having evaporated, cooled, condensed, formed a cloud and blown away.  A “sharp scratch” numbed up the two sites on my left breast and a long needle was inserted and there then followed a noise like a staple gun.. no pain, just a bit of pressure to remove some suspect cells in a punch biopsy.  Dressings were applied and it was then I asked “given this is your daily job, what is your opinion about what this is?” “A cancer” was the response “can it be zapped “ I asked, “no it will require a mastectomy”.

Author: fionaosmaston

I live in Plymouth, Devon with my husband Nick and near my parents Sandy and Sheena. Our three children, Marcus, Phoebe and Miles are grown up. I am a geographer and love teaching Geography. My current role is as an Assistant Vice Principal in an inner city comprehensive school where I lead on coaching and initial teacher training. In August 2017 I was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma and following a skin sparing mastectomy and endrocrine/hormone treatment I am now awaiting a final reconstruction. These views are my own and writing this story has helped me come to terms with where I am in this interlude of life which has been dominated by breast cancer.

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