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Tits!

As you’ll know if you’re one of the very kind people who keeps popping back here to check if there’s anything new (and you’re not my Mum, who – let’s face it – is definitely my main reader ;)…), you might have wondered why there was such a quiet period…

I’ve moved (which was insanely stressful but home finally feels like home – hurray!), but the stress of that induced a bit of a bad mental health spell. I’d just started to get into a regular running pattern with my housemate and then as I was showering, felt something not-quite-right in my right boob (my favourite of the two, in fact!). A little, pea-sized lump. Shit.

As you can imagine, this was the least ideal thing to come across at the tail end of a bad mental health spell and especially as I was two days into feeling settled (which felt like it had taken a life time). I wanted to write about my experience to offer some reassurance – I had to go to my initial biopsy appointment alone, which can be scary, and there were lots of other women on their own too, so if you’re going through something similar; rest assured, there’s really nothing to be scared of – but here’s what you can expect… from your initial appt. to your biopsy results…

First things first…
Book in with your GP straight away. I had a male GP, who automatically brought a female chaperone in to the room. You are totally within your rights to ask for your GP to go and get a chaperone if they don’t automatically do this  (this wont delay your appointment as there’ll be a nominated person on hand to do this).

Also, one thing worth noting throughout your appointments; wear separate top and bottoms. Dresses are not the thing for this type of appointment (trust me 😂). Examinations are thorough, and afterwards you’ll get dressed for a quick chat with your doctor about next steps. My lump was ‘mobile’, which generally is a good sign; so I was offered a referral or weekly checks with my GP. I opted for the former as I wanted clarity as soon as possible…

Your Referral
Admin is a nightmare isn’t it? There were a couple of mistakes made with my referral despite it being marked urgent. My anxiety often manifests itself in weird ways – calling people, not prioritising my healthcare properly; but *puts on maternal voice*

THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT. IF 👏YOU👏 DON’T 👏HEAR 👏BACK👏, KEEP👏 CALLING 👏YOUR 👏GP.

Eventually I was called by the breast clinic and given my appointment for a few days later. I had a letter through explaining what I could expect…

Expectations…
The appointment happens in 3 parts – and generally they say to allow 3 hours from start to finish. Upon arrival, you’ll have an assessment with a nurse and doctor. At this point, I was pretty scared. It is a scary thing to go through so don’t feel embarrassed or stupid if you’re a little bit emotional! Then the doctor drew on my lump with a sharpie. I can’t help but feel permanent marker is an ill-advised item to draw on boobs with 😂 but what do I know!

This assessment was very similar to the one with my GP; the surgeon will tell you what’s happening and what the next steps are. Because I’m under 35, they can see what they need to on your boob with an ultrasound; if you’re over 35, it’ll be a mammogram.


The Ultrasound…
Once I was done with my assessment, I went back in to the waiting room to be called for my Ultrasound. A nurse came to pick me up and escort me in to the Ultrasound room. This nurse, and the Ultrasound scan doctor, were absolutely incredible.

The doctor explained I’d feel some cool gel, and talked me through the whole process. She scanned my Sharpie’d boob (poor Mary-Kate), and in and underneath my armpit too. The doctor could see the mass pretty quickly on screen and explained to me that it looked benign, but that she wanted to take a biopsy to be on the safe side…

Having a biopsy
For me – this was the scariest bit. There’s something about the word ‘biopsy’ that feels quite frightening, and between you and I – I have a chronic fear of needles. The doctor explained that firstly, I’d feel a sharp scratch in my boob while they applied local anaesthetic, then she talked me through the biopsy needle – these make a loud *CLICK* sound.

At this point, I was starting to get a bit tear-y and overwhelmed – I explained to the nurse and the doctor that I’m really frightened of needles. As embarrassed as I felt, voicing my fears made the appointment so much better; the doctor and the nurse really took onboard my concerns; the doctor explained that I’d have the anaesthetic, I’d hear three loud clicks as they took the biopsies, and demonstrated the sound beforehand so I would know what to expect.

After, the nurse would apply a hard pressure to my boob after each to minimise the bruising. She advised me to look away if I was feeling scared of needles.

The nurse was absolutely divine; as the doctor talked me through she stood by my side and held my hand with a big smile. It was so comforting especially as I was feeling like a bit of a knob having a little cry!

After the biopsy, I was told to wait and see the surgeon. This was pretty quick where he told me they thought it was a benign mass, and I could get my results back to confirm in two weeks.

I had a dressing applied, had to wear a sports bra for the next day or two and couldn’t exercise for 24 hours.

Doing this on your own…
IS scary. It’s lovely having people at the end of a WhatsApp, but going to something like this and waiting for the outcome is scary HOWEVER, you are a tough cookie, AND, the NHS is simply… incredible. I was calmed so much by their kindly nature. If you’re scared of needles, or hospitals – or frankly just scared (or d.) all of the above, like me!), which is totally understandable, then tell them. They’ll reassure you, and really help you feel a little less lonely and a little less frightened…

My sisters both offered to come and one of them did come to my results appointment (pair of legends those two), but you might not always be in the position where you can take someone there, and thats OK! Just take a deep breath, and take stock. You’re going to manage this like a pro!

After your appointment…
Give yourself something to focus on; the shop at the end of my road sells an overpriced (but bloody delicious) bar of dark chocolate, so I decided to TREAT YO SELF (Myself?) afterwards… It was a little self-care that I kept thinking of – whatever the outcome, I was going to have some bloody good chocolate to cheer myself up. Sounds silly, but it was so nice having something trivial to focus on.

I know that I’m very fortunate because of my mass being benign; and I know lots of those other women in there on their own today would not have received such good news. There is tonnes of support available to you: the GP will talk you through everything you need to know about the next steps of your treatment, support groups that are available in your area, charities and other resources… If you don’t understand what’s being said, or the doctors running through it all too quickly for you to process, don’t be afraid to ask them to stop, slow down, and explain again.

I have always checked my boobs regularly to be on the safe side (very useful guide here)  remember to check at different times of the month too. Get to know your Phil & Grant Mitchell – the more you know how they feel, the quicker you can identify changes and abnormalities.

Be candid with your doctor; if you can’t take someone with you, don’t be afraid to tell them you’re nervous or scared – it stays between you, them, and the four walls of your examination room (unless like me you feel the need to chronically overshare and tell all of your internet friends too).

You’ll be given lots of guidance on how to look after your biop’d boob, too, so read this carefully and take it easy :)…

Lastly…
Whatever the outcome, be kind to yourself. Use the support available to you and confide in your friends and family to help you through. Tell the doctors and nurses how you’re feeling; they will be full of kindly support and help put you right at ease. 

I’ve talked a lot about the incredible kindness of the nurses at the breast clinic, so I’ll be taking a hamper in for them when I go to collect my results. I’ll also be donating all my old magazines for people to have more of a distraction when they’re waiting between appointments 🙂

Update:
A slightly worrying couple of days after I found out on Friday that my biopsy results appointment had been brought forward by four days. At this point my main concern was ‘when do the NHS ever move anything up the list?’, however, as it turned out I needn’t have worried, because everything is completely benign. My little ‘friend’ turned out to be a fibroadenoma which is essentially a benign tumour. Obviously I need to keep an eye on it, and any other bumps that appear have to be treated like this one was, but all in all a super positive outcome.

Check your breasts regularly, follow up appointments if they don’t come through or you don’t hear from your GP after a referral, talk to your friends and family for support, prepare a list of questions before each appointment so you come away with the answers you need… You’ve got this!

OK, back to normal content now 😉

Kate x

 

 

 

 

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10 Comments

  • Reply Hels

    Love this post. Firstly I’m obviously SO HAPPY it was all totally benign, that’s amazing and must be such a relief for you. Secondly thank you so much for sharing this, I know what a scary, uncertain, stressful experience it was for you and it’s so good you were treated so well and it sounds like the staff were absolutely brilliant. Its so informative, I had no idea what the process was if this was to happen, so it was a really eye-opening read.
    Love you xxxx

    June 19, 2018 at 08:03
  • Reply Tabitha Beckett

    This happened to me about a month ago and I was terrified! But just like you it was a fibroadenoma too! I was so relived! Well done for going on your own, my mum came with me as I just didn’t know what to expect but luckily they knew it was benign when they say it in the ultrasound! So my worry was shortened quickly!

    Tabitha xx | whattabithaloves.co.uk

    June 19, 2018 at 11:55
  • Reply Jenny in Neverland

    This is such an amazing post and thank you for sharing your experience. All things considered, it sounded like you had a pretty positive experience! It’s nice to see the NHS talked about so highly! Your doctors and nurses sound lovely too and I’m so glad everything turned out okay. I think younger women need these sort of posts to know that even WE need to check our boobs regularly. I have a little fiddle every other day really! I had a call back to the hospital after my first smear test last year because they found some abnormal cells on my cervix and it was terrifying, especially as nothing like that has happened to me before. But the nurses who did my hospital appointment really were the lovliest and they completely put me at ease xxx

    June 19, 2018 at 12:06
  • Reply Sarah

    I am so sorry this happened and I hope you are ok xx

    June 20, 2018 at 07:06
  • Reply Jessica & James

    So so glad to read that it wasn’t anything more than it should be but thank you so much for sharing your story! This has completely opened my eyes to be more conscious about my body and checking up on it. But yay to you moving and it feeling like home. Hope to see more updates on that, but for now, rest well!

    Jessica & James | http://www.foodandbaker.co.uk / http://www.foodandbakertravels.co.uk

    June 20, 2018 at 15:20
  • Reply Steph

    I’m so glad everything was ok. I can totally understand as I had a bit of scare after a smear test last year so I understand it can be scary. So great that you have opened up about your experience so other women know what to expect.

    Steph x
    http://www.wanderlustpulse.com

    June 21, 2018 at 22:01
  • Reply Claire Williams

    I love the title for this! Haha very attention grabbing! But what a thorough and well informed piece hun, it reminds me I need to book my appointment x x x

    June 28, 2018 at 17:49
  • Reply AbbeyLouisaRose

    I wanted to give you the biggest hug throughout all of this, Kate! You’re absolutely incredible for writing this post in such an open, honest yet still humorous way, you’ve done a brilliant thing by sharing your experience so candidly! Although I’m sure that this was an incredibly scary and anxiety-inducing experience, it seems like the NHS did a great job of supporting you and making your treatment a priority, as well as the fantastic doctors and nurses on hand on the biopsy day, giving you an understanding ear when you needed it the most! I am so so happy that this turned out to be benign, this post will be an amazing resource for other women going through similar things to read, totally reassuring and incredibly well written!

    Sending nothing but love xxxx

    June 30, 2018 at 21:37
  • Reply Kat

    I think it’s so important to know how to check, and also to check them on a regular basis. It must have been very scary getting the biopsy done. I’d feel really nervous!

    July 6, 2018 at 07:51
  • Reply Charlotte

    Oh my goodness, I’m so glad you’re okay! I’ve never had a health scare like this but people close to me definitely have, so I know how scary it is. It seems like you treated it so well though and your advice is amazing. Well done you for staying so strong and writing a post like this which will definitely help others in the same boat! (By the way, I love the name of this post 😂)

    July 6, 2018 at 20:33
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