So, it all started back in April 2017. I went to the doctors with a pain in the breast area that just hadn’t gone away, I quietly and inwardly wondered if it was breast cancer, but put the thought out of my mind as much as I could. I wasn’t sure if there was even a lump there or not, but thought it best to get it checked.
I had hesitantly Googled my symptoms (you are only ever 2 clicks away from death on Google so I never like to google symptoms. Even a simple toothache can turn to a brain tumour in seconds after googling it!) but for once this time, Google said I was going to be fine, so I happily, I believed it! It said pain doesn’t usually mean Breast Cancer so I left it a little longer.
I went to my doctor and she went a little serious and referred me to the Breast Clinic in Oxford. I shrugged it off as a cyst or something (after all, Google did say I would be fine!) and went to Oxford the following week as instructed. It wasn’t the main Oxford hospital so expected a little community kind of hospital.
To my silent horror as we swung into the car park it was actually a huge hospital specialising in Cancer! What on earth was I doing here? I dismissed it and put my mental blinkers on, I was only here for a check-up, don’t worry little brain, we don’t belong here, we will be out of here in two shakes of a lamb’s tail!
As my husband and I drifted silently through the huge hospital, lost in its endless hallways and myriad of different department signs, we got lost. Our little clinic was outside apparently, we got there in the end. I sent my husband off for a coffee with his brother as I knew I would be out of here in no time, it’s just a cyst, don’t worry. So off he went and I skipped along into the breast specialist’s office.
She asked lots of questions and examined me, sat down and said, “I think you should get your husband to come back”. Oh, this is all starting to get a little bit serious now I thought. I sensed a tiny little elephant walk into the room and take a seat in the corner.
She handed me a bit of paper and sent be over to the breast imaging department for an ultrasound. I didn’t call my husband back yet, what did she know after only doing a quick check right? Don’t worry little brain, she’s got it all wrong. A few years at Med School and these doctors think they know everything! Ha!
I walked to the main hospital clutching my bit of paper, the little elephant following behind quietly. I saw young women with no hair which really hit me emotionally. There is a wig shop right there in the hospital too. It’s great for patients, but was a really difficult thing for me to even look at right then.
I sat down to wait, trying not to look around too much. How did my mental blinkers not block the wig shop out? Come on little brain, just look at your boots now, aren’t they lovely? They need a polish, I should do that when I get home. Do I even have any polish? Maybe I should order some on Amazon right now, yes, oh look a cat video, let’s watch that! Stupid cats, when will you learn that toasters will always make you jump out of your skin? My toaster still makes me jump and I’m human! LOUISA GORDON!! I wonder how long she had been shouting my name?
I was just drifting around in my own cloud by now, nothing felt very real anymore. It was all so surreal. It was such a sobering place too, I didn’t want eye contact with anyone. I felt like I had slipped down a rabbit hole and found myself in a whole new world. A world that before this day, I had no idea existed.
I had never even heard of this hospital before, and it seemed as big as my village inside! Impossible to miss! I guess we only ever see what we want to see, and the “that will never happen to me” mentality was a strong screen from all of this. You don’t enter this hidden world until you have to.
I drifted into the ultrasound examination room where there was lovely young doctor waiting. These doctors just get younger and younger don’t they? (I’m only 35, but she seemed very young!) She put the ultrasound on me and quickly found three dark things. “It’s just a cyst right?” I said. “It’s not a cyst” she said abruptly. I could tell she knew what she was looking, but until things are confirmed, I felt she couldn’t say what it was out loud. I glanced at the elephant, it had doubled in size.
She said she needed to do a biopsy. It’s a big needle but is not painful with the local anesthetic, it was very uncomfortable though. Sort of like being stapled and shot with a nurf gun at close range at the same time! She said “Don’t worry, I only need to take 3 samples”. “Three!!” I said, thinking that one was bad enough, “yes three on each lump” she said. “Each!!” I said, “You mean nine in total??”
Deep breath, ok, only 8 more to go then I guess! Just block it out, let them do what they need to do as you don’t want to come back to take more samples if they aren’t good enough!! Be a good little brain, block it out and we will make it!
There was something that really wasn’t being said now, and it was getting a little awkward!
I joked my way through it, I find if you can make people laugh, they will try to do more for you. “You are too young for a mammogram,” she said, “but I will go next door and see what I can swing for you”. Every stage seemed to get a little more serious, everything grew in gravity, that elephant was getting bigger and bigger.
The mammogram squashes and squeezes you, you have to stand very still, but is over before you know it and then I was ejected out into a waiting room where I finally got to text Russ and he was back in a flash. We were given an envelope with my results in, to take back outside to the first clinic I went to. I gave them in and sat down quietly; me, my husband and the now rather large elephant.
When my name was called, we went in to see the very first doctor I saw, but this time she was with a breast surgeon! Well this all had a little more gravity to it now, why would she be here if it wasn’t serious! It was a small space and a bit of a tight squeeze with the doctor, the surgeon, me, my husband and the now huge elephant all in one room! It was all now very sobering, they knew exactly what they were looking at, but couldn’t say until the biopsy results came back.
I couldn’t let the elephant sit there any longer; I had to ask “Is it breast cancer do you think?”
The very experienced and lovely surgeon smiled and said, “I can’t say for sure at the moment, but I am concerned. We need to keep an open mind and it is important not to worry” Dont worry??? Yeah right! like that’s going to happen I thought! She looking me in the eye and said in the most reassuring way I have ever heard “Whatever it is… we can deal with it. Don’t worry!” And with that, she left the room and the remaining doctor booked me to come back the following week for the results.
So that was it, go home and wait, and don’t worry? Don’t worry? I walked out to the car not knowing what on earth we were about to be facing. Would my children be growing up without a mother? Is this it? Not knowing just felt like a death sentence! I didn’t know anything about cancer! How far had it progressed, will I survive it? I got into the car park and just broke down into tears, it was the not knowing now which was the worst. I had to fight to breath. There was no air at all.
Now I had to act ‘normal’ for a whole week whilst dodging my way around this massive elephant in the room all the time!! How can anyone do that?? I just tried to get on with things, buried my head in the sand and immursed myself in my digital training. I love this course as it keeps me busy, in a positive space and gives me ways of channeling my energy into creative things like this post for example! Gotta stay busy and positive!
I’m a 35-year-old Mother of 2 young children, a business owner and now a Breast Cancer fighter to boot! If I can shed just a little light on the path ahead for someone else going through Breast cancer, then this blog has done its job! If some of my eternal optimism has pierced a dark place and brought some light to someone, or if some of my positivity has brushed off, inspired or empowered another in any way, then I will be one happy lady!
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