Appointment this morning

Hello, I posted here a couple of weeks ago when I got diagnosed with grade 2 Invasive Ductal Cancer ER/PR+, HER-, which was a complete shock as this came from a fibroadenoma that I was diagnosed with in 2011.  I was starting to get my head around it and be more positive but then I got called back from the breast MRI as they had found another possible abnormality in my other breast, which was 9mm (the original tumour was measured as 20mm).  I went this morning and had another special mammogram on my other breast, ultrasound and biopsy.  I asked if it was cancer and the radiologist wouldn’t really say but from her demeanour and how she answered, my feeling is that she suspects that it is.  She said that it couldn’t be felt manually and that it hadn’t shown up on my mammogram but the special one that they did this morning, just about picked it up.  She did say that if it was cancer, it could all be dealt with at once, with the other lump and shouldn’t change my treatment plan.

However, what I’ve really started worrying about is that she also checked my armpit with the ultrasound and was spending quite a while on there.  She did have a student with her and said a couple of things and one was something about “it looks thicker/or swollen (not sure which) but it’s not” or something.  I asked if she was scanning my lymph nodes and she said yes, so I asked if all was ok and she said yes but didn’t seem that convincing.  She asked if I was ok and I said I was but just would rather know if there was something showing there and asked her again if all was ok and she said yes (again not very convincing though!)  She also scanned the outside of my breast, by my armpit (the lump in upper inner breast).  When I was diagnosed, nearly 3 weeks ago, the consultant did a manual examination and ultrasound on both armpits and said they looked and felt normal.  Also, on my MRI, which I had last Monday, they said both sides for the axillary nodes looked normal.  I’m now freaking out that something’s been missed or something’s changed.  I know I’m probably being irrational but I just feel really overwhelmed again today.  She didn’t do a biopsy on my nodes, only on the breast lump and I will get the results a week on Thursday.

She also asked me about my treatment plan and asked me if I was having chemo first, but I said the plan was surgery, radio and then Tamoxifen but to talk about chemo later on, but that I may not have it.  I just feel really anxious again about it all.  I will ring my BCN tomorrow (she’s not in today) but any kind words would be really appreciated!  Thanks!

Hi Chardonnay

This is a horribly stressful time with our imaginations in overdrive and we pick up on the slightest thing. Like you, I moved from ‘harmless’ to serious over a series of tests and I have got the impression on this site that this isn’t unusual. The important thing is that, by the mere fact of moving from test to test and repeats of tests, they are making sure nothing is missed, even if it was overlooked at the start.

My feeling is that you are in a ‘wait and see’ position which is agonising but which you can do nothing about (remember, NO googling!) so now is the time to invest a lot of your attention in managing your emotional health. Perpetual anxiety, insomnia, catastrophising, panic attacks, they needn’t be the norm if you spend time now practising how to relax. It’s not easy and needs time and concentration but it IS possible. I’ve had a lifetime of anxiety and panic disorder but I found that, because of the things I was doing seriously, daily, my anxiety was so much better during treatment (and after) and I had no panic attacks, which was unknown. I may have recommended it before but , just in case, I’ll do it here: YouTube - Progressive Hypnosis’s Manifest Healing; selection of videos by Michael Sealey, matched to different worries, so you can pick and choose. Try these several times a day and when you want to go to sleep and you may well find that you feel better equipped to handle all the rubbish that’s being thrown at you.

Trust your team. If they’ve told you they missed something, you know they are being open with you. If the radiologist is saying it seems ok, then it does seem it - but that won’t mean it definitely is until they get the results of the further tests. Cancer in the other breast may be less advanced and require simpler treatment. You just don’t know, and neither do they, till the tests are all completed and the results back. In my case, they discovered more with my surgery, changing my treatment plan yet again.

It feels interminable but at least you know they are being thorough and, if chemo is necessary, then it’s necessary. There are horror stories abounding but it’s all manageable (and remember, this is from a phobic), with so much done to mitigate potential side effects - and many women just take it in their stride! Meantime, look after your emotional health the best you can because you can’t speed any of this up. You can only take care of yourself.

So, take care,

Jan x