When it’s firm, be firm. A cautionary tale.


A year ago today I found a small firm lump in my armpit, in direct line with a squishier one much lower down on my ribs at the bottom of my breast.

October 2nd 2014 my calendar reads, FOUND IT. The next day reads, Doc blah so what.


Because I’d got a false positive result from my first breast screening I had been given two mammograms and an ultrasound scan in April 2014, only 5 months previously. I was told then that the area of concern was fine, just overlapping breast tissue on the first screening scan. This was where I now had the lower lump.


In October, although my reluctant GP did refer me to the breast clinic in hospital I was sent away because neither the doctor nor I could find the lump on my ribs (I was mortified) and the doctor pointed at my armpit and said, “That’s a reactive lymph node.” He spent longer lecturing me about Angelina Jolie causing endless anxious women to clog up his clinic than he did examining me and no scans were done.


In December while on the phone to my GP I asked how long I should leave this reactive lymph node in my armpit to go away because it was still very evident. “Leave it six weeks, no, 12 weeks. Sometimes they never go away.”


I went back to another GP about 8 weeks later and got referred back to the same breast clinic. The first thing I said to the nurse and doctor was, “Look.” “Can you see these two lumps under my skin?” “Yes.” Finally.

That day I ended up having 5 core biopsies from a radiographer who said, “That definitely doesn’t look like a reactive lymph node.”


It wasn’t until February 23rd 2015 that my calendar reads, Bad day.

The firm lump in my armpit WAS cancer, how about that, eh? The squishy one was a group of cysts. The doctor told me that the first lump in my armpit I’d come in about was in a different place. No it wasn’t. He never touched my armpit and I couldn’t see where he was pointing.


All this carry-on was before the cancer removal process even started which was no less traumatic than trying to get it diagnosed. It’s absolutely flabbergasting that the health system designed to help people be well is grinding them down into used-up splats of their former selves, whilst still proclaiming success.


This shouldn’t be happening to anyone. Yet today the news channels inform us that GPs are being paid NOT to refer people for cancer tests. Read it and weep.


So here I am, one year after picking up my own cancer but my medical records say otherwise. I’m still here but what the hell has happened to me? The whole time I was made to feel like a paranoid, neurotic, hysterical, premenopausal fool. “We reassured her, we reassured her.” all the letters said.


I still have absolutely no idea how you can have two mammograms that show unaffected tissue in the exact area where a grade 1 invasive cancer of 6mm appears 5 months later (except it wasn’t diagnosed till 10 months later.) There was DCIS there they said after my surgery in April, so that evaded all the mammograms too. I guess.


I was kind of fooled by the softer cyst lump into thinking the doctors were right and the only way I realised that they could be wrong about the lump in my armpit was that when I searched online, “What does breast cancer feel like?” it said FIRM and sort of IRREGULAR or KNOBBLY and ATTACHED to underlying tissue. I could feel all this even in such a tiny lump no bigger than a petit pois. Seems like I was the only person in my horrid story who’d ever looked it up!



I can so relate to your cautionary tale. I felt a lump in my breast and went back and forth to the breast clinic with no resolution. It culminated in one surgeon more or less telling me that I was a total time waster. I left the breast clinic that day with my tail between my legs vowing never to darken their doorstep again. Fast forward 5 years and the lump was huge and I felt I couldn’t live with it any more (although I was being monitored by the genetics clinic with annual mammograms) Went to my GP and told her my tale. She was absolutely gob smacked and requested I give them another chance. I agreed and found that I did indeed have a tumour and it was 37mm of invasive lobular carcinoma. They were very apologetic but did point out that because it was lobular, they couldn’t see it on mammo. I’ve managed to let the whole thing go and now trust my new team implicitly. So ladies, if you feel something’s not right, please stick to your guns and get yourself checked to YOUR satisfaction, not theirs. 

I am so glad that you have posted this because I was beginning to think I was going out if my mind.  Eight weeks ago I notice a dent under my left breast, off to docs who referred me to breast clinic.  I had a mammogram and scan told everything was fine, but the consultant said she wanted to see me again in three months. Two weeks later  a lump appeared, back to docs who referred me again.  On Monday I went to clinic the consultants words were “you saw my colleague two weeks ago nothing would change in such a short time” I told him about the lump and he reluctantly examined me then scanned me, told me I had a cyst.  I said I know I have lots of cyst, but maybe you should scan where the lump is (he had scanned the wrong place).  Again reluctantly he scanned me again, I even placed the probe for him, sudden change of mind, said I needed to see a radiologist and he would arrange an urgent appointment.  I’m going next week and trust me I won’t be leaving that room until I am 100% reassured! especially after your post.  I was beginning to think I was wasting their time and that I was being paranoid.  I’m usually a very good patient, but two years ago I was misdiagnosed for over two years which resulted in three hospital stays and a serious operation (not breast).  All that because I took what the docs said as gospel, well not this time.  

I had LCIS mixed in with my lobular cancer, so I think the initial lump I felt was probably that. They did do a biopsy which came back inconclusive, and they did want me to come back 6 months later, but the surgeon I saw said there was no need and cancelled my appointment. Wish I’d stood my ground all those years ago. Would’ve saved me a lot of heartache, so please Diane, don’t be fobbed off. I also hope I’ve not scared anyone into thinking that they can’t trust the diagnosis they’ve been given. It’s just that I believe if you’ve got a gut instinct, run with it till your happy to let go. Best of luck Diane and all the best pinnypig. X