Learning to ‘Self-Check’ #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth
I hope at this stage that everyone is aware October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought I would share my experience and I hope that it will make you ‘Coppafeel‘.
In September 2013 I saw an advert about self checking in my doctors waiting room and I made a mental note to give it a try. I’d never tried before that day but I did in the shower that evening. I nearly fell out of the cubicle when I felt it.
The thoughts that run through your head are immediately bad, as the disease runs closely in my family I thought the worst. I knew I had a pain but I thought it was my bra causing discomfort. I made an appointment with my doctor the next day. I met a kind doctor who was filling in for my usual physician. He advised that the nurse also come and check it out and they both agreed by the size and placement that I should be referred to Cork University Hospital Breast Clinic. I received an appointment for November, they were a long couple of weeks.
I can’t explain how nice the staff are in CUH. I met with the doctor who was so calming and easy to speak too. He advised after a physical examination and chat that I would have a biopsy. I thought I would have to return another day for this procedure but I was taken to another waiting room and within half an hour was on the table.
Another nurse and radiologist explained what would happen- an ultrasound to determine sizing and placement and an anesthetic to numb the area and a quick (and honestly) painless biopsy. It’s the fear of the unknown which makes this very uncomfortable and scary. I was given a dressing, after care advice and told my results would be in in a week.
Thankfully it was benign and I felt so silly to have panicked that much. I was also incredibly grateful for the Clinic and the service that was available to me for free! I decided it was time to overhaul my life and change a few things- I stopped eating badly, going out as much and generally looking after myself a lot better.
Skip to March 2015, I had become used to a quick self check but I had a lot of discomfort and stinging in my right breast and during a check I found another large lump. I knew exactly what to do and went to see my doctor. This is the really strange part- my doctor was on leave and the same kind replacement doctor was back! I was completely freaked out, he remembered me and referred me straight away. This time I brought a friend and it made the journey a lot easier!
This time I knew what was coming and I cringed at the nurse who came to call me in. After another chat with the doctor I was going for another biopsy, I didn’t know mammograms were only for women over 40. I was properly scared this time, again the nurses were incredible and this time she held my hand! Although I was numbed, this biopsy was awful. The radiologist took more samples than the last time and showed me the ultrasound- I saw the mass which looked huge I didn’t believe it was me. I was assured I wouldn’t need surgery which was a relief. Although it was very painful and took a while to heal- this was again thankfully benign. I felt like the luckiest person on the planet!
This was me after the second biopsy, I was completely numb and very emotional, I couldn’t stop talking about how nice the day was. A little discomfort was the price for peace of mind. The moral of my story is that self checking is so incredibly important! If in doubt, grab your best friend and get them to check. Make an appointment with your doctor as soon as you notice a change- here is a link to spot any physical changes.
I know I will continue to self check and I have check ups and blood tests with the nurse in my local doctors office. I know the service is there if I need it. I’ve consciously changed a lot in my own life to help prevent any illness in the future.
I hope my story will inspire you to check and go to your doctor if there is any change. Only you know if something is off, trust your instinct!
If you would like to donate to Cancer Research and Support, Stella and Dot are donating all net proceeds made from The Wishing Necklace and Bracelet in Rose Gold until October 31st to the Marie Keating Foundation. Which helps people in Ireland prevent cancer, detect it at its earliest stages and journey through cancer diagnosis, treatment and survivor-ship.
There are some great supports out there if you need them! Thanks for reading,