Before I start this post, I would like to say this story doesn’t have a horrible ending, I’m just venting!
So, I found a lump. I’ll set the scene: approximately 3am I was awoken with a searing pain. Half asleep my hand shot to my right breast, the pain was in a specific place to the right and directly under my armpit. As I felt the area there it was.
I kept feeling it as if I was expecting it to disappear. It didn’t.
Now, it hadn’t occurred to me that cancerous lumps are usually painless. All I could think was “Oh shit”. I didn’t really sleep well for the rest of the night and when I did I dreamt of the lump. I remember dreaming that I couldn’t get a doctors appointment and that I was arguing with the receptionist – then, weirdly she tells me she’ll book me in for a smear. I kept telling her I didn’t need a smear but she wouldn’t listen. Anyway, you get the gist.
When my husband got up in the morning I asked him to have a feel, mainly to reassure myself that I wasn’t imagining it. I wasn’t.
I’m going to pause this story to tell you a bit about my personality. If there’s something wrong I need to know, I feel safer asking a professional and getting it sorted rather than trying to ignore it. Just in case. In labour, I felt safer in the hospital – I hated being at home having contractions. If I’m having a procedure or blood test I need to look, I feel safer knowing what’s happening.
Oh, and I was under the impression that we are meant to get these things checked.
Anyway, I had a triage call to discuss it, she booked me in for an examination within the hour. When I went in to see the doctor I quickly realised that she was a bit put out that I was there. She examined my breasts and proceeded to inform me that it’s just normal breast tissue. Thank fuck! Amazing news! But the way she said it was patronising to say the least. She told me that it’s not like a pea (I’d been asked on the phone “is it as big as a pea?”) and that it’s quite obviously linked to a long line of breast tissue. I tried to justify myself by telling her that I didn’t say it was like a pea but that I said it is as big as a pea. She was not amused by this. She told me it’s more than likely due to hormones but that it’s “really hard to know when it’s only a days history” – I was beginning to feel very guilty for having wasted her time. She very sharply told me that cancerous lumps are not painful, that’s why people miss them. When I told her I didn’t even think of that, I just panicked, she told me “well, I’m going to reiterate this now, cancerous lumps are not painful, they are painless.” She told me I have been checking my breasts wrong, which I am grateful to learn obviously but the way she spoke to me was like she thought that I’m stupid.
I left there feeling guilty that I had wasted an appointment.
I left there feeling like I was stupid for not knowing that it was just normal breast tissue.
I left there feeling embarrassed.
But the more I think about it the more disappointed I feel. I’m disappointed that I was made to feel I shouldn’t have got that checked. The more I think about it the more angry I feel. I’m angry that she is part of the problem, an attitude like that is what stops some people from getting things like that checked. A reaction like hers is what people are afraid of, the thought of that reaction is what makes people convince themselves they’re just being silly.
For some of these people, that decision not to get checked out ends up being fatal.