And Now This …

And now this … those of you living near me probably know already … as I have roles in so many local groups that I found I had to tell a lot of people (so that I didn’t let anyone down at the last minute).

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primroses

Oh! Why?  

Glad you asked, well, my three-yearly mammogram came round about six weeks after Dad’s funeral. I went along – as I always do – quite happily, being sure that I felt no lumps or anything unusual – and I do check.    . . . First a bit of history …

Back in 2003 a mammogram had found something suspicious … that call-back, followed by a biopsy a couple of weeks later, resulted in a diagnosis of Micro-calcification. (poem from the time below)

Evidence of micro calcification

I find myself aware of life, all life
taking care not to harm
even the ant. Just as when expecting,
an un-thought, instinctive  
seeking wholeness and health.

I ask, ‘worse case scenario’
tuck away pieces of terminology
seek little more, seem un-worried
but later, research thoroughly
– the odds work both ways.

Biopsy; as always, do as I’m told
be as still as I know how
the conscientious student
the un-worried patient
put it all at the back of my mind.

From the bath I rescue
both silverfish and spider, for once
pray for myself instead of just others.
Then the letter, and my relief reveals
to me the degree of my anxiety.

Ann Foweraker

Nothing to worry about after-all !

Then a few years ago I had a sort-of sore feeling in my left breast when I lay on that side, nothing to feel lump-wise, just sore – a bit like an old bruise that still hurts when pressed. The ‘soreness’ didn’t go away, so after a few weeks I saw the GP, who referred me for a mammogram just to be sure – it showed nothing to worry about at all ! (and the soreness went away too after a little while)

Then this latest mammogramand the call-back. Immediately I checked again – I still couldn’t feel anything untoward! So set off in a hopeful mood – that this would also be a false alarm

In Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital we have the Primrose Breast Care Centre – here everything for breast care is drawn together so you don’t have to wander around the hospital, going from department to department. It is a charitable foundation working with the NHS to provide the best breast care experience and, completely coincidentally, something that one of the groups I’m involved with had recently voted as this year’s charity to support.

First it was in to take another set of mammograms – to check the area they were concerned with – though they took scans of both breasts – perhaps for comparison.

These must have been sent almost straight into the Radiographer, for that was my next port of call, within a few minutes. The doctor then did a ultrasound and told me, in a kind way, that there were two patches, right beside each other, that, in his opinion, looked very like cancer, and that he was usually right 19 out of 20 times. So he would need to do a biopsy.

There’s me thinking I would have to wait of a couple of weeks for this, as before – but no, within a minute or two he and the nurse were ready to perform the biopsy, the skin numbed and the needle guided by the ultra-sound scan. It wasn’t too painful – an odd tugging feeling in the breast as the needle ‘clunked’, twice, and it was done – the nurse pressing down to stop the bleeding and then putting paper-stitches and a waterproof dressing over the wound. After a meeting with another Primrose nurse to fill out forms, I was ready to go home.

Apparently the pressing is supposed to stop bruising – all I can say – is it didn’t work very well for me! I know I bruise easily – I’m always finding bruises on my hips and shoulders where I’ve caught something, so lightly I can’t remember doing it – but the bruise is there anyway.

breast-cropThis photo is after three days. You can see the site of the biopsy, where the tape was – it left un-bruised lines, and even the water-proof dressing curbed the depth of bruise – but the rest of the bruising spread far and wide! (Don’t be alarmed – it looks a lot worse than it felt – actually the main soreness was around the site of the needle insertion – the red dot)

 Then – about a week later – The Letter. ..

I’d definitely been diagnosed with breast cancer … and a trip into the Primrose Unit again beckoned, this time to discuss treatment with the surgeon.

My reaction? Well, to be honest – pretty miffed! I was just ready to get going again on so many fronts. Yet, somehow, not altogether surprised as I have seen, over the last ten years or so, so many people who have cared for others (often with cancer or another life-threatening, or debilitating, condition) who have then gone on to develop cancer themselves. . . it almost seems as if it is catching – but of course – it isn’t.

My next reaction – research! No point in panic or upset – I’ve just got to get on with it – but find out all I can! That’s me 🙂

Why? Oh Why? Am I blogging this?

Well, because my cancer is (provisional) stage 1 (Early – invasive ductal carcinoma) and, luckily HER2 negative (so, not aggressive) and when I was researching I found that there are many, many blogs out there about aggressive, or late-discovered tumours – but few about the early ones, therefore few to compare with.

AND because I couldn’t feel ANYTHING that would have warned me – even when I had the re-call letter and gave it a really thorough checking out! ONLY the MAMMOGRAM picked it up. So I want to say, when you get the call for your mammogram – GO! I’m only glad my call came this year – not in another couple!

One thing I know – there are hundreds and thousands of people out there who have had breast cancer – survived – and living life to the full – so if you’d like to share here – please do – as always, I love to hear from you – on this or anything else…

And that’s me for today … Best ~ Ann

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂

pps If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

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4 thoughts on “And Now This …

  1. Hi Ann,
    I am sorry you have to deal with this but glad they caught this so early on that treatment should be easier.
    And good for you to turn it into something positive by making a blog – maybe other women affected will find their way to this.
    And on a personal note – I got my notice for my yearly mammogram 2 month ago and totally forgot about it. I will make my appointment today!
    Hope all your lovely readers here will lift your spirit.
    I hope your treatment plan is soon in place.
    Susi

    • Hi Susi,
      Thank you SO much for your comments, and yes, GO! Catching it early is key, and it is so easy to let these things slip.
      And to any lovely over 70s you know, remind them they won’t be called, but they can still ask for a mammogram! I’ll be be writing more about this another time.
      Thanks x Ann

  2. Bit of a raw deal, methinks. You’re right to say it isn’t catching but anecdotal evidence seems to show a link between stress and the triggering of latent dis-ease. And you have had a lot on your plate recently (I know you wouldn’t have wanted not to be involved in your dad’s care but…). On the plus side it’s early stage and will be soon a thing of the past. In the meantime there will be the treatment which no-one can pretend will be fun (though I suspect you will find something to amuse!) – please be kind to yourself, accept offers of help, ask for help from all those who offer but have no idea what to do and try to do ‘be-ing’ rather than ‘do-ing’. – difficult, I know.
    With love Steph xxx

    • Hi Steph,
      Thank you for your wise and kind comments. Yes, be-ing rather than do-ing can be hard, but I will try to let myself take proper time for rest. Afternoon naps have been wonderfully restorative – though I suspect induced by the medications!
      Thanks again
      Best – Ann

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