Earlier this week I watched Ireland AM, an Irish morning talk show. I happened to come into it as they started to speak about Breast Cancer and being breast aware. My ears pricked up.
In January 2008 I found a lump. I was shocked but went to the GP to get it checked out. He confirmed the presence of the lump and while trying to reassure me it was probably nothing referred me to a breast surgeon. My husband was great. He rang to get an appointment for me and even though they didn’t have one for about 6 weeks – and this was a private consultant – he managed to get me a last minute cancellation for the following week.
Of course it was an agonising wait and I was full of worst case scenarios but once I got to the appointment I was well checked and they performed an ultrasound. They weren’t really able to determine if it was suspicious or not so decided to arrange for me to have a biopsy.
When I called the next day to get the appointment the lady told me they had decided not to do a biopsy having reviewed the ultrasound results in more detail. To be honest I wasn’t happy. While I didn’t particularly want to go through a biopsy at least it would tell me definitively.
I eventually spoke directly with the surgeon on the phone. He said rather than put me through a biopsy they thought it might be better to just wait and see for 3 months – that it didn’t look too suspicious on further examination. This was at a time when revelation after revelation was coming out about hospitals around the country failing to catch breast cancer diagnoses.
I didn’t plan to be another case and politely told the surgeon that I was happy with the initial plan and would like to go ahead and have the biopsy. They did it – it wasn’t the least bit uncomfortable (but thankfully I am fine with needles) and after a slightly nervous wait (given the results got delayed as they need to run some further tests) I finally got told that it was all fine.
I still have the lump to this day but relaxed in the knowledge that it is nothing to worry about.
The lady featured on Ireland AM was not so lucky in that her lump was cancerous but she has been treated and seems to have recovered well from what I could tell. Her saving grace being that she detected the lump early and also went to the doctor to have it checked. Sadly so many other women are not as lucky and pass away from the disease.
Breast Cancer Ireland have now introduced a new app – given we are all attached to our smart phones half the day it is a great idea! It allows reminders to be set for monthly or quarterly (or however frequent you want) breast checks and aims to make people more breast aware. None other than our inspirational gold medalist from London 2012 Olympics, Katie Taylor, is fronting the campaign to promote it.
There is also a very helpful simulation video within the app to help with the when should you check (just after period) and how (there are three methods all outlined in the video) questions many may have about self examination.
One of my biggest fears when I found the lump was that it would be breast cancer and that I would die. At the time I had a 1 year old and it broke my heart to think of her growing up without a mummy. Since then I have become very breast aware and while this post is not directly parenting related I encourage all you lovely mummys to do the same so that we can all spend many happy years rearing our kids.
Men should be aware too. While not as common men can suffer breast cancer too so also need to be breast aware (and I’m talking of your own! – I know how breast aware men are just often of other breasts!!)
Everyone should check their breasts on a regular basis and why not download the new app at Breast Cancer Ireland website