My memories of this day back in March 2016 are still as clear to me today as they were back then. Not because it was a special say, well it was St Patrick’s day but it was because it was a day my life changed forever. Standing in the shower on that cold March day, the warm water spilling off my body, I felt it again, the lump was still there.
Although cancer is in my family, I’d never considered getting it myself, but today for the first time in my life, reality hit home, it could be breast cancer.
I was alone in the house at the time, I had purposefully waited for my husband and daughters to go out before I got in the shower. Trouble is, I hadn’t gambled on getting a phone call as I stepped out and still wet, I picked up the phone to hear my mum’s voice on the other end. I have no recollection of why she called but I do remember the words gushing from my mouth, “I’ve found a lump”… silence.
Within minutes I was on another call, this time to the doctor and as I put the phone down from making an appointment, reality struck again, whatever happens now, my secret was out and there was no going back.
My next challenge was telling my husband… and this time it was face to face.
I don’t think I have ever seen so many emotions pass across his face in the whole 20+ years I have known him, but the last expression was fear and it resonated deep within me.
Just a few short hours later I was uttering the words again to the doctor. She quietly examined my breast and confirmed there was a lump and I would be referred to the hospital. She estimated it should be less than 2 weeks before I would be seen, but the very next day the letter came, I had an appointment in just 4 days time
Arriving at the hospital I felt calm, still in shock but calm. A lovely nurse took me for a mammogram and explained I would also have an ultrasound that day and possibly even a biopsy depending on the findings. It was my first mammogram and whilst it was not a pleasant experience, in fact it hurt on one side, it was necessary, it was over and I left the room to wait for the ultrasound. I waited alone; my husband had taken my daughters to school (they knew nothing of the lump) and the traffic was horrendous. Finally, my name was called and I walked in the large, somewhat empty, cold, dimly lit room and lay, bare chested, my dignity covered by a sheet on the examination bed.
The consultant and nurses were amazing, they made me feel relaxed and within seconds the examination had begun. For those of you who have never experienced this, they examine both breasts for completeness and it is totally discreet and pain free. That said, there for all to see on the screen was a ‘grey area’, situated in my right breast, just where I had felt the lump.
Needless to say, the biopsy followed and as the area was prepped, in walked my husband to stand by my side just as he always has.
Yes, it was uncomfortable, yes I was frightened but yes I knew I had made the right decision.
9 days later was results day and on the 31st March I drove to the hospital with my mum knowing my husband was keeping things ‘normal’ for our girls.
Whilst I cannot explain how, I knew what I would be told, “yes, you have breast cancer”.
So that was it, the moment where all this began, sitting in a consulting room at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, no tears, no drama, just life.
It took another two and a half weeks before I finally lay on the operating table, my boob intact for the final time. But as I closed my eyes, I repeated in my head a phrase from Louise Hay on self-healing “I love and approve of myself and I trust in the process of life. I am safe”
Six months on, I can look back at that day, safe in the knowledge I made the right decision for me getting the mastectomy. But you know what, just because it was the right decision for me, it does not mean it’s right for everyone.
That’s a big lesson I have learned…
“We are all unique, our experiences are unique and our reactions to life are equally unique… and that’s not right or wrong, it’s just what it is.”
Perhaps you too have suffered with breast cancer and have a story to tell or maybe you have suffered from another form of loss… maybe the death of a loved one, divorce, children fleeing the nest or losing a job. Whatever your loss, I empathise with your pain and the grief that follows and I too understand the lessons we can all learn from such devastating circumstances.
Why not drop me a line or just make a comment, I would love to hear your story or how my story touched you, thank you for taking the time to listen to me, I am forever grateful.