So hard

Hi. I am new here and terrified! Just before Xmas I had a routine mammogram. I have just turned 60. Last week I received a call back and 3 days later I was in the breast clinic having tests. I was told I have 2 lumps in my left breast and they did 6 biopsies, 3 in each lump. They have inserted markers or clips into the lumps. Does that mean it is likely to be bad news and the clips mean surgery? I am so worried do any advice would be so appreciated.


Hello @paddington1

So sorry that you find yourself here . The markers are a standard procedure after biopsies so that they can find those lumps again easily if needed . It’s normal to get several biopsies as well . A few people I know who were negative for BC have told me that they still have the markers in situ from years ago. Many people do go for a second screening and turn out not to have BC but you don’t often hear about it because they don’t talk about it.

Right now you’re playing the waiting game which is horrible - everyone feels the same way . It’s hard not to fixate , you read meaning into things when there may not be any and the truth is that you have to wait for them to give you your results and it’s the lack of control that many of us find so hard . Some people have even said that they were relieved when they found out they had BC because they were no longer in limbo and could move forward with a plan.

I’m assuming you have an appointment to get your results ? You just need to keep going until then - a day at a time . Talk to a good friend, try to do something you love that will make you happy even if for a short time as that will help - try to bring your thoughts back to that time when your imagination starts to go into overdrive . Stay off Google and if you’re feeling particularly edgy then don’t have too much caffeine as it will make it worse .

Come back and let us know how you get on whatever happens.

With love
Joanne x


Thank you so much for your reply and advice. My head is working overtime but I am trying to stay positive. I don’t yet have a date for the results. I had the biopsies on the 9th January and they said about 2 weeks for results. They will telephone me with an appointment to go in as they don’t give out results over the phone down here.


Hi @Paddington if your user name is derived from where you live, you’ll be in the Imperial NHS Trust. I had my diagnosis in that HA and you’re right, they always call you back in for results and discussion about any treatment that may be necessary. Yes, my results showed a couple of lumps which had to come out (and have been dealt with) but there were a number of women in the waiting room who were told they had benign conditions. So hold on to the fact that nothing is inevitable.

I see you are 60. I was 66 when diagnosed and am now 68 and have been told I am cancer-free. Alas our generation are brought up to fear “the big C” but these days breast cancer is very well treatable and the vast majority of women are treated and BC disappears into the rear view mirror. It’s scary now but this period will pass and once you know what you’re dealing with, things will get easier. When your results appointment comes, try to take someone with you because you’ll be trying to process what is said which means it’s impossible to take everything in or remember it. Let us know how it goes.


Thank you Tigress. My user name does not relate to location, I am down in Okymouth, Devon. Thank you for your advice. That is very helpful. My daughter is coming with me for results and I will take a pen and paper so can write stuff down. Will update when I know what I am dealing with.


Update - hospital just phoned (6 days after biopsies) and want me to go in on Thursday. They advised me take someone with me. Any advice on what questions I should be asking if it is BC would be greatly appreciated. Thanks


Hi @paddington1,

Welcome to the forum, it’s a very supportive place and I hope it can give you some comfort during this worrying time.

Waiting for results can be nerve-wracking, but please know that our nurses are just a phone call away on 0808 800 6000 if you ever need to talk through your anxieties with someone.

We’re sending you all the best wishes :heart:

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It’s hard to say as they haven’t given results yet - and I suspect they will give you a result plus treatment plan or next steps.

I would write down questions you would ask both if is and if it’s not BC to be sure . Bit of a mind bender I know.

I think you will already have thought of things you want answered if it is BC and most of those would be covered in the treatment plan - so it might just be a matter of adding ticks or underlining things. They should cover type and provisional stage and grade and there should be a specific plan depending on what kind it is
But ;
any further investigations needed
Order of treatment and types of treatment likely to be needed
What kind of surgery and are there options
Do they have any recommendations and what those recommendations are based on

How would underlying health conditions be managed alongside BC treatments .

Logistical problems like where would treatment / investigations be done and are there options for travel such as Hospital transport or accomodation nearby .

Also who would be the next person to contact you . How and when would that happen .

Is it advisable to have any health checks done by your GP or Dentist .

As you’re 60 I’m assuming that you are post- menopausal but if you aren’t sure of your menopausal status I would advise getting a test done at your GP to find out - not knowing mine caused some confusion in my treatment plan. It’s not something you need to do before your appointment this week but it is something to think about doing if you’re not sure.

If it’s not BC - I would be wanting to know if treatment is needed and what that would be . Also does what you have make you more likely to develop BC in the future and how are they going to monitor you .

Some of the other questions may also apply

In either case - is there literature available for you to read / take home and details of how to contact the BCN service ( if you don’t already have those ) .

I’m sorry - it looks so clinical as it’s written down here but I hope it helps .

Sending hugs


That really helps Joanne, thank you. I will write down some questions and think that will help me feel more prepared for whatever is to come

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Hi @paddington1 it sounds as if there will be treatment involved if they have recommended that someone accompanies you but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily bad news.

Biopsies give a good indication of the histology of the lumps - are they cancerous or not and if they are, what type, grade and size. The truth is though that usually the full histology is not known until the lumps have been removed and subjected to rigorous testing. That is when they really know what they are dealing with and an appropriate treatment plan is put in place. That is the time that most of the targeted questions will come.
For Thursday, if it IS BC they will give you a pretty accurate idea of type and an estimate of size although these things can change following surgery. That will allow them to give you an approximate treatment plan which, once again, won’t be finalised until after surgery. If it isn’t BC :crossed_fingers:then they may still want to remove the lumps and the discussion will be around when and where.

To give you an idea of what might happen, when I had my biopsy results appointment, I was shown into a doctor with a breast cancer nurse in attendance. The doctor told me that yes it was cancer, an invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) to be precise which seemed to be 9mm in size and which was endocrine positive. None of that meant anything to me at the time so I really had no idea what to ask. He said that I’d have a lumpectomy to take it out, 15 days of radiotherapy and a tablet to take every day for 5 years. He also said he would expect me to have a normal lifespan, whatever normal is. That session lasted no more than 5 minutes but I was then taken next door by the nurse and we spent a good 40 minutes going through everything that was going to happen. This was backed up by a MacMillan book in which there was information about, and answers to, practically everything that you might consider at that stage. She put great big asterisks on every page which was relevant to me. She also gave me her phone number and told me to get in contact when questions popped in to my head if the answers couldn’t be found in the book. Just to complete the picture, I did have an IDC but also another lump called a DCIS and when they both came out they measure 14mm so a bit bigger. I also ended up having only 5 days radiotherapy so things can change a bit.

So it may well be that Thursday will mainly about listening rather than tons of questions outside of the when and where of surgery. The thing to remember is that no treatment can be given until you consent to it so asking questions will be paramount to you feeling you can agree to things. At each stage of treatment you will have preparatory appointments with the specialists anyway where questions can be asked about specific things. You will also be offered the opportunity to ask questions to a specialist nurse as you prepare for any treatment.

This will all seem overwhelming at the moment but will start to become clear on Thursday.


Hi Paddington1 , A GP friend advised me to record all my appointments which I have done. Its easier than trying write whist trying to take in what is being said next. I always ask if its ok and have never been refused. Take pen and paper too just in case. My very best wishes for thursday.

UPDATE - so had results of the biopsies today. Grade 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Will see surgeon in a couple of weeks to discuss options and treatment plan. Just feel a bit numb but at least now I know what I am dealing with. They said surgery would be in around 4 to 5 weeks.


Hi Paddington1 (my favourite bear)

I was where you are now last September after a routine mammogram. I was told I had Idc and needed a lumpectomy & slnb initially, followed by radiotherapy & hormone tablets. It was then found to have spread to two of my lymph nodes and I had to have a second operation for a full clearance, these all came back negative, it then became unclear as whether I would need chemo or not so an oncotype test was done and I received those results yesterday, thankfully it was a score of 11, so I will not be having chemo just radiotherapy and tablets for bones & hormones.

What I am trying to say is just take it all one step at a time as things seem to change with every appointment as they gather more information. Look after yourself and take time for you, the first few weeks I was in a total dream world, emotionally up & down, all over the place.
You are strong & you will get through it but as we all know on here the waiting is the hardest part, with all the unknowns.

Reach out when you need too

Take care
Sending hugs

I wish it was better news @paddington1 but it’s good that you’re no longer in the dark . Try to take a day at a time - I know how trite it sounds but it works. A lot of my appointments were over the phone as it was the end of lockdown but I had a list of questions written down beforehand which I crossed off as they were answered . I was sent quite a lot of leaflets by one of the BCNs and reading those helped me to gain a bit more insight and work out what to ask.

If you are able to do something nice at a weekend that may help - I used to try to take "days off " from at it when I was at your stage ( with varying degrees of success ) and found that the weekend especially Sunday was a good to day to do this because nothing happens on a Sunday - no letters / appointments /tests. If the phone rings it’s not going to be a medical professional on the other end.

So sorry but you will get through this
Joanne xx

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Thank you chillout365 and Joanne. That really helps x

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