Terrified and in shock

I have just turned 42 and found out on yesterday a cancerous lump in my right breast.
It is a long story but I feel I need to tell it. The diagnosis came as a total shock because last July I actually saw my consultant because of pain I was experiencing in my left breast. At the appointment they discovered discharge on squeezing the breast and I then had a mammogram and ultrasound. These were both normal but at a follow up appointment, they took a smear of the discharge which revealed red blood cells. It was then recommended that I have a breast MRI to try and work out what was going on. I had this at the end of August. This was normal but there was a small area of enhancement on the left side (the right side was reported as normal) so I had another ultrasound which revealed nothing. Then at the beginning of October I had to have a duct excision which showed a benign papilloma. I was obviously relieved and thought the whole drawn out situation was over.
Fast forward to a week ago and I was slightly concerned about some pain around the sight of the excision and the general feel of the area. I wasn’t sure it was necessary but thought I would go to see the consultant to check rather than waiting until February, when I was supposed to see him next. He looked at both breasts and suggested an ultra sound scan. He finished saying that he was very much certain it would be fine and that I should book a final follow up for April! Off I skipped happily. Well you can imagine horror when the sonographer said they could see a solid lump in the right breast. They said it was fairly small 0.8 cm and took a biopsy, they classified it as U3. I found out yesterday it is hormone positive cancer I believe it is er+ and pr+ . I couldn’t believe it as nothing was reported on the contrast MRI three months ago or the mammogram or ultra sound I had 4 and a half months ago. I now have a mammogram and ultra sound scheduled for Monday and another MRI on Thursday. The consultant was reassuring about it and said it is small and slow growing but I now have no trust or faith in the whole process. I was completely reassured in October and it seems even the MRI wasn’t reliable. I am so worried that more concerns will show up on the tests I am having next week and that will lead to further biopsies and the whole initial treatment plan and prognosis will change. I have had a few mammograms in the past for benign conditions and am worried that this radiation exposure may have contributed. I didn’t expect to be dealing with this. I know 42 isn’t that young but I feel so overwhelmed. I was really starting to get excited about my work ( the most focussed I had been since having children) and was desperately looking forward to spending Christmas with my 5 year old and 8 year old and now I feel like all that has been ripped away from me ,while all my friends continue to have these experiences. I am now setting up the elf on the shelf for my children and they are so excited but all I feel is terror. The waiting and uncertainty seems unbearable. I have hardly eaten or slept in the last two days and feel physically sick. I now think I can feel more lumps. I don’t know how to get through the next few weeks. I have so many thoughts and questions.


Hello @eb13

I’m so sorry that you’re in this situation . Waiting for tests and results is horrible and you’ve really been through the mill already over the last few months . Hopefully they will give you some more information at your appointment on Monday .

Have a notebook nearby and write all your questions down as you think of them and take it to your appointment.

I didn’t have your history of problems in the left breast but I had a lot of neck / shoulder pain on the left side so when I was called for second screening I was sure it must be something awful and on the left and like you was flummoxed when I was told that my left side was clear and it was my right side that was the problem. Mine was also 8mm and slow growing . I understand your lack of trust in the screening process as I had a similar issue but it sounds like you have had a lot of other tests so hopefully there will be no more awful surprises . At the end of the day you didn’t know it was there , would probably have not been able to feel it but it has been picked up now so the screening did work if not quite perfectly . When they are sure what it is and give you a treatment plan then it will get a little easier - there’s no worse place to be than in limbo.

I think it always harder to be dealing with this stuff at this time of year which was also my experience. . I’ve often felt that Christmas exists in a parallel universe and when things are very difficult we don’t really get to go there - but I hope you manage to spend some special time with your little ones .

With love
Joanne x


Thank you for your reply. I just feel because this tumour was missed on the mammogram in July and breast MRI in August, then they may have missed something else and maybe something worse.
I have had a lot of benign issues with my breasts over the years including fibroadenoma, cysts and a papilloma. I am so convinced they will find some awful.
I was really positive when I went in on Tuesday to check how my left breast was healing after the duct excision. I never thought I would be in this place with a tumor on the right… Now I a just feel like I jinxed it all and an better off assuming the very worst case scenario. It’s not rational I know.

1 Like

Hi again @eb13

No isn’t rational to assume the worst but it’s human it’s natural in your situation and we have all done it . The places we go in our imagination are often the worst ones. You don’t have to explain why you feel as you feel - I understand .
My own experience led me to feel distrustful as well at one point but eventually I had to let that go for the sake of my own mental health . My fear went after my surgery but it took a few more months to let go of my anger.

The only advice I can give is firstly check with your BCN that the tests you need have been booked and then contact those places and offer to take a cancellation ( if you think that’s feasible ) to get them done sooner .

In the meantime I got through the waiting by trying to take a day at a time and doing things I loved . I couldn’t be happy but I had moments when I was happy and not thinking about it and those helped sustAin me. I can remember how bad I felt but the moments when I was happy during that awful time still stand out in my memory now - if you can make some happy memories while you are waiting it will help you get through the worst moments. Some people have had medication for anxiety or counselling in your situation - I had a bit of counselling myself and if you feel you need help don’t be afraid to ask. I know now that everyone feels awful / like they’re on an emotional rollercoaster whilst waiting for tests and results and not being able to trust makes it harder . Despite the support of friends etc. I felt very alone and I also couldn’t get into the Christmas spirit at all.

Joanne. X

1 Like

I found a lump 12 June 2003, had all the tests, including 7 fine needle aspirations. it took ages before the lump was out on 11 November 2003. When I went for my follow up on 5 Dec I was told it was in fact a 1 cm tumour with DCIS round it. I had a further op on 18 Dec. It didn’t show up on a mammogram, fine needle aspiration or any other test they did then. I had a segmental mastectomy and that cancer did not spread anywhere it was grade 1. I was 47 when I found the lump, 48 when I had surgery as my birthday is in August.

I had tamoxifen for a very short while as it hadn’t spread they said it was only 0.9 cm and a lymph node next to it was clear.

So I had 15 sessions of radiotherapy and went on with my job. I did have some complications, a wound infection after first and second surgeries, a seroma and what looked like bad sunburn from radiotherapy.

I put it all behind me but it was oestrogen positive cancer, which does have a tendency to recur although is generally less bad than the negative version.

I had another kind of breast cancer in the same breast last year probably related to DCIS which I thought had all been removed but maybe not. I know it’s a different type as it’s a different grade (2) of no special type, and it had spread to an internal mammary node. Most people don’t have these, but I do.

I suppose what I’m saying is no two cases of breast cancer are the same and we all face uncertain times ahead. I am now 68 so if breast cancer doesn’t get me, another cause of death will happen in the next 20-30 years. I am a pessimist so I am prepared for it at least!

I am not sure dying of breast cancer is worse than heart disease or Alzheimer’s both of which afflicted my parents and in my mother’s case still do. She’s 96 and hasn’t had cancer but she has broken a hip, got very low thyroid levels, has a heart pacemaker to keep her going and is on end of life care in a dementia nursing home. I am not aiming for a long and unhealthy life.

At Christmas there’s enough overeatinng to reduce my life expectancy apparently we on average consume 6000 calories on Christmas Day. I have lost weight since my cancer diagnosis so I shall be eating oranges, low calorie cereal, and plenty of porridge.

I think it is fine to prepare for the worst case scenario and hope for the best case scenario unless you are like me. As you can see I am still very much alive and we have a lovely dog called Lola who keeps me fit with daily walking even when it’s raining heavily as it is today. Luckily no one knows when their time is up!


1 Like

I totally understand how you feel, I had a routine annual check and really wasn´t expecting anything as couldn´t feel anything new. I still cant feel the lump as it is directly beneath my nipple. I so wish I could have felt it as would have gone for my check sooner. I haven´t been able to eat at all as have major anxiety, fear , panic waiting for my mri and full results. But I got some rescue remedy drops and some natural anxiety medicine from the chemist today and this does seem to help. I also used Sleepeze tablets from Boots and managed to get 7 hours sleep, they have really helped. I have managed to eat a bit today but I have had to force myself but know how important food and sleep is right now.
I feel like my world has fallen off its axis but everyone on here reassures that once we get our treatment plan things will start to feel a bit better and more in control.
I have done all my christmas shopping and plan to wrap all of my daughters xmas presents this week so I can feel like I am a bit more in control as highly unlikely I will be able to do much in the lead up to Xmas as they have scheduled my surgery for 20th, obviously depending on what my results and final treatment plan are. Maybe, getting stuck into Xmas will help you too, there is so little we can control at the moment but maybe focusing on this will help a bit.
Also, could it be possible that you are imagining new lumps? I have been feeling twinges and aches in my breast since my diagnosis and I think it is probably just me imagining it or after effects from the biopsy, I bloody hope so but its hard not to imagine its the cancer spreading, which I am sure is not rational but nothing is rational at the moment. You may also have some bruising, swelling inside from your biopsy making it feel like a lump?
I hope you manage to get some sleep tonight and feel a bit better tomorrow xxx

1 Like

Thank you for replying. Sorry you are going through this too. I haven’t been given a date for surgery. I don’t know why they haven’t set a date. The waiting around is awful.
I am having another mammogram and ultrasound tomorrow (the last mammogram I had was last July - I had it because of the discharge I experienced from my other breast). I am terrified of what it will show (the last was completely normal). Then I am also having another ultrasound and an MRI scheduled for Thursday.
I have so many questions. It’s amazing that you managed to get 7 hours sleep. I may try the tablets.
Giving yourself a clear job to do like wrapping presents is a good idea

Thank you for replying. It sounds like you have a great out look on all of it.
I just really want to watch my children grow up and I want to be well enough to still enjoy my life with them.

Thank you so much for your advice and words. I have got the ultrasound and mammogram booked for tomorrow and the MRI for Thursday ( I will see if there are any cancellations). Did you work when you were waiting for results. I decided not to go into work . I am a senior leader in a primary school and the job is very full on - I feel it will be too much. But now I wonder whether the distraction would be good.

No I went off sick . I made the mistake of telling colleagues I was going for second screening thinking it would make less anxious - it didn’t and then at the end of the appointment they told me it was almost definitely cancer and I couldn’t face anyone asking me questions . I"m a Nurse and it can be a stressful job - much like yours . At one point I thought I should go back then realised I had been running the microwave without having put my food in first and I decided that everyone would probably be safer if I stayed at home.

Is there any admin work you could do at home while you are waiting ?
Joanne. X