Diagnosis Murder

Not the best Christmas present in the world is it? 

‘Well, yes, I’m sorry to tell you, your lump [like I’m claiming ownership of it as a uniquely special thing I’ve been consciously nurturing] is a cancer.’

‘A’ cancer? This actually means there are lots of different types and they don’t know which one it is yet. But it is one, that’s all I need to know at the moment.

This is what breast cancer looks like on an ultra sound: #mce_temp_url#

That’s not mine, it’s someone else’s. Seems that it’s the disease du jour – I’m the third person I know this year to have cultivated a tumour in my breast. If you haven’t had it yet, you haven’t lived. Seriously. 

So anyway, it was Christmas, and I figured the best bet was to just ignore the dark mass lurking in my left breast til those bad boy surgeons can get in there in January and assess the full extent of the situation. I can literally do nothing about this until they decide whether it’s a one-off rogue tumour, or whether it’s managed to spread it’s love about a bit more than one would hope. And for the most part, I have managed to just get on with Christmas (itself a dark mass of malignancy and pent up emotions, and that’s just my sons) and pretend this is sort of happening to someone else for most of the time.

In a weird moment of synchronicity, when I was waiting at the hospital for the early Christmas biopsy result present, I bumped into a friend I went to university with almost ten years ago. We were both mature students (shockingly old in our late 20s) and both had small children, so we connected over various units on Shakespeare and 17th Century novels like ‘Tom Jones’ (do not waste your time with that, you’ll never get it back, and life is way too short). Now, when you bump into an old friend you haven’t seen for years – in the waiting room of the breast cancer clinic – it’s kind of nice to see them, but also a bit shit in that you are obviously both there for the same reason. She has just been given the all clear, and extensive chats on Facebook have really helped me to realise that actually, breast cancer is more common than you’d imagine. No really. 

She suggested I write a diary about it, which I decided would be a good idea. However, I know if I buy a note book and start handwriting, I won’t keep it up. But I figured a blog is the next best thing, and as I won’t be advertising it, if you’re reading this, I either like you enough to share it with you, or you are anonymous and have found it by accident. Either way, you are more than welcome.

Interestingly, said friend and I both had a Mirena Coil prior to diagnosis and a cursory internet search shows a lot of women in their late 30s on progesterone only contraception developing breast cancer. This could be due to better detection rates and the seriousness with which the NHS treats early diagnosis nowadays. I will explore this further as this blog, and my cancer treatment, progress.

The consultant told me to have the Mirena coil removed, so I went off to the Ella Gordon unit today to have that directive actioned. I marched in, looked at the empty waiting room, thought ‘aren’t I lucky?’ went up to the desk and announced that I’d like to have my coil taken out. The receptionist looked at me blankly and said ‘We are the rehabilitation service.’ Excellent. I’ll probably need that too soon. Turns out they moved the Ella Gordon unit to the main hospital, and now it’s called the Sexual Health Service. I suspect they may have in-bred it with the GUM clinic to form a new species of gynaecology service where you one-stop-shop your entire lady garden, whether you’re ridden with STDs or saddled with unwanted pregnancies. And obviously they have placed this new service right next to the Maternity Department. Very considerate. 

Oddly enough, the nurse I saw in the all new one-stop sexual health clinic has just recovered from breast cancer. She too had a Mirena Coil…