I didn't think I'd be scared...

Hi everybody, I’m so glad I’ve found your great forum. I finally saw a GP on Thursday who referred me and my lump straight away. Amazingly, when she asked when I’d first noticed it and I replied " about 5 months ago" I didn’t get a lecture or criticised for being irresponsible, she was just calm, pleasant and professional. I’m now waiting for my date. For the last four days I’ve been fine and not too worried, but this evening it’s as though I’ve suddenly been hit with a sledgehammer and I’m more scared than I could ever imagine.

Hi Clanta,
Well done for going to your GP and getting your lump checked out. Don’t beat yourself up over the time it took you to pluck up the courage to go, instead congratulate yourself that you did go and now it is getting sorted.

Hopefully your clinic date will come through soon - if it’s an urgent referral the target is two weeks from referral, it may may a teeny bit longer in some places or if consulatants happen to be away.

The waiting is the worst bit, your head will go round in circles and you may fear the worst. Did you know that 9 out of 10 lumps turn out to be benign and may not need any treatment? Hopefully you’ll be in the nine, but if you are the one, they will move very quickly to organise really good treatment for you.

Do you know how your clinic works? Some are ‘one stop shops’ where you leave with a diagnosis, at others they will do some or all of the tests but you have to go back for the results. When you get your appointment letter it should tell you what to expect.

You will want to decide if you want to take anyone with you - some people prefer to go alone, others like another pair of ears, either is fine.

In the meantime, avoid Google - a lot of information is out of date or just plain wrong and could scare you. Choose very carefully which threads to read on here - the level of support is amazing, but you could scare yourself because people inevitably tend to share the bad experiences and their questions rather than the good ones.

Tomorrow morning you might want to ring the helpline (number at the top of the screen) and they can give practical advice and emotional support. The main BCC website has some downloadable leaflets, e.g. this one about the breast clinic appointment www2.breastcancercare.org.uk/publications/worried-about-breast-cancer/referral-breast-clinic-bcc70

Hopefully you will one of the majority who leave the clinic reassured, but if not, there is excellent support here whatever the outcome.

Take care, try to keep busy… and make sure you plan some treats for after the appointment.

Hello Clanta

Of course you are shocked, worried and scared all rolled into one, but do try and remain calm and optimistic even though this seems impossible at the moment having just found your lump and been referred. I found it helpful to think that at least I had found my lump, and that something could be done about it rather than be ignorant about it. Try to find positives in your situation as they are there even if everything seems rather negative at the moment.

RevCat has already given you some excellent advice and support so please heed it as both she and I have been there and now wear the T-shirts. Just to add to what she has already told you, please take a pen and paper with you and perhaps whoever it is you take with you can make notes for you. If you do go by yourself then ask the Nurse present if they can make notes for you. If you are told anything that you don’t understand please ask them to explain it to you. Ask as many questions as you feel you need to, and if you think of something after your appointment then make sure that you have a contact number and call it. It is quite natural not to hear or take in anything after being given a diagnosis that you don’t want. Your brain won’t be functioning as clearly as it should if you are told you have breast cancer.

If the diagnosis does turn out to be breast cancer you will receive the very best of treatment I am sure, and there are 50,000 more women in the UK alone each year who share a breast cancer diagnosis. Take comfort from the fact that you will not alone and there will be a lot of these women on this website suppporting you, and others like you with your treatment. One of them is me so join hands and follow me as I am now a year on from finding my 'lump’and have had a mx with reconstruction, 3 FEC and 3 Docetaxels, 15 rads and on-going herceptin treatment. As far as I was concerned the more treatments to guard against a recurrence the better so I opted for the ‘Full Monty’. Breast cancer treatment is a costly business - my herceptin treatment alone costs more than £30K and I am sure the NHS wouldn’t spend it if it didn’t work.

I think that every women on this site who has been offered chemo will have been as scared as you currently are regarding the prospect as prior to our diagnosis we only seem to have heard horror stories about chemo. I think that the fear of chemo is worse than the experience so if this is the fate that awaits you try and take it in your stride and mark each chemo session off as you have them. I had to have 6 sessions so after 2 I was 1/3 through, after 3 I was halfway, after 4 I was 2/3 through and then after 5 it was just the last one. This bite-sized approach worked for me.

I have also kept a diary called ‘My Journey’ and I would certainly recommend it as not only is it quite therapeutic, but it will also serve as a memory of your treatment should you need to refer back to it for any reason in the future. After all, do you remember exactly when you had measles or chickenpox? It is also quite useful to put your feelings down on paper as you can let off steam in your writings, especially if you feel you can not to those nearest and dearest to you.

Just remember that if you have to have chemo it is different things to different people, but most of us who have undergone it will agree that it is ‘doable’. I can’t say that I was looking forward to it, but it was nowhere as bad as I imagined it to be. OK losing your hair, and then your eyelashes and eyebrows is not a prospect I was looking forward to, but it is a darn sight more preferable to losing my life. 6 months after my last chemo my hair is now growing back as are my eyelashes and eyebrows.

Lets hope, your lump is nothing sinister, but if it turns out to be breast cancer you will be assigned a Breast Cancer Nurse to support you through your treatment - they are there for you. Mine told me told me that they will see me through this, and they will. Together we will beat this as you will too.

Life will get better - I know for I have now reached the 1 year anniversary of finding my lump when my life seemingly turned upside- down, inside-out and back-to-front in a moment.

Thinking of you and try not to worry - easier said than done, I know, but let’s cross the bridges if and when we come to them.

Mazzalou x

Thank you so much for your kind replies. I’m still awaiting for my referral date but I’ll let you know how I get on. Thanks again

Debbie x