I sadly lost my big sister to metastatic breast cancer in Jan 2019.
Since my sister was diagnosed I have made it my mission to check myself every month, well over the last 2 weeks I have noticed that I have a swollen armpit and on palpation a lump, as a nurse myself I knew I needed to get this looked at, but I can now feel the anxiety building.
I hoped the Gp would say I cant feel a thing, but unfortunately she said I can see it is swollen and I can feel the lump, she didn't think it was a lymph node or a cyst and doesn't think isn't typically Cancer like. However, it is there and although not rock hard, its definitely not soft. Obviously with my family hx and no other explanation for the lump, I have been referred to Breast Clinic at my local hospital. I don't know weather to feel reassured or terrified, I know where I am going, I know what will happen and I even know the surgeons and the specialist nurses, as they looked after my sister. I feel desperately anxious, I'v told a friend and obviously my husband knows, but I cant face putting my extended family through this stress again. As well as dealing with losing my sister, my brother had testicular cancer that returned following surgery, thankfully now well, then my father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, I just feel I have no choice but to internalise this.
I thought I would cry, but actually feel quite numb, I know the stats that 9:10 people who attend clinic do not have cancer, but I cant get it out of my head that my sister was given a 98% cure rate, but became that 2%.
I'm terrified to be told I have to attend this appointment on my own, I'm not sure I can do that 😞
I’m very sorry to hear of your recent diagnosis and I’m pleased to hear your treatment is going well, especially during these very challenging times. I hope you are recovering well and not to exhausted from the radiotherapy. I finally received the call yesterday to say my appointment will be on the 2/12/20, I feel relieved that I now know when it is and have something to work towards. It has definitely helped my calmness, plus I’ve been on some long walks to clear my head.
Tara you have definitely not upset me, I really appreciate you’re comments and I’m trying to keep busy. I work full time as a nurse, so that is definitely helping and I have two children aged 5 & 9, so life is pretty busy.
It must have been so very hard receiving that news on your own, and I guess that’s the bit that scares me the most. As a family and a married couple we have been through so much, I wander if we could cope with anything more. Luckily, my husband works at the hospital where I will be attending, so he will camp out in his office so he can be close by, he is mortified he can’t be by my side.
Thank you so much for your kind words.
My name is Tara, I am 37, have 2 boys 8 and 10 and was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer on the 20th March. Since diagnosis I have had a therapeutic mammoplasty on the 9th April, 6 rounds of chemo and have just finished radiotherapy. I wanted to let you know that I totally get how you feel and wanted to tell you to try not to worry. I know how easy that seems for me to say, but if I could go back to when I found my lump on the 27th February I would try and be more calm and relaxed. I know it turned out to be cancer for me, but since my diagnosis I really do feel as though I have been in safe hands.
I am hoping for you that you do not have cancer, but if the worse should happen please know that you have got this and each and every one of us are different including siblings. I hope I have not upset you with my words, but what I am trying to say is that like you well know statistics are just that and you can get through this!
I had to wait 2 weeks from referral until I was seen in the clinic. I had an ultrasound, mammogram, which did not hurt, was just a little uncomfortable with how you have to stand and then a biopsy of my lump. This was all done on the same day and although I did not get my results the specialist nurse did say that it wasn’t a cyst which I and my GP thought it might be. I still thought it would be a benign tumour right up until I was told ‘unfortunately, it’s breast cancer’ 9 days later.
It is difficult not being able to take a loved one to appointments with you at this time, but I looked at it as it would make me stronger and it certainly has. It will for you too, even though you don’t feel it now. I found it hard to get upset in front of my family as they were not afraid to show their emotions which is really strange especially for my husband. I have never cried in front of my boys either as I did not want them to imagine the worst outcome. At the hospital on my own I could open up to the professionals and not be afraid to cry and release my emotions in front of someone that was not really known to me. I would say of you do go alone perhaps take a pen and note pad incase you have any questions. I had a tendency and still do to forget questions I wanted to ask when I am in a situation where I feel anxious.
Like Evie has said, there are lots of us on here that all understand how the other feels and we are all here to grab onto and pull one another along. Please let us know when you have your appointment and how it goes. Sending a virtual hand hold for your appointment. I got you!
Lots of love ❤️ Tara xx
Thanks for your reply, its really nice to hear that sometimes there are other causes, rather than just Cancer. I’m still waiting for my breast clinic app, it’s a week tomorrow since I saw the Gp and the anxiety is starting to get to me. If I don’t hear soon, I will chase things up with the hospital, just trying to keep busy.
I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your sister. As well as your brother and dad going through cancer, that must be extremely difficult.
I can say I went to my GP last year with very similar symptoms, my armpit was very swollen and I could feel a tiny hard lump. When my GP examined me she found the lump I did and also found a bigger one, she also said they didn't feel cancer like but sent me off to the breast clinic anyway.
When the Dr at the clinic examined me she also found everything the dr did and could tell it was swollen, I went for an ultrasound after seeing the Dr and they lady who did that said it looked like something was going on with the lymphnodes under my arm which actually really scared me, I'm not sure why. The Dr then called me back in and explained that I have a hole in the muscle in my armpit and breast tissue had started to grow up in my armpit hence why it looks swollen and is lumpy. She told me it is nothing to worry about but when checking my breats to make sure I pay close attention to my armpit as well. It still looks the same to this day and the lumps are still there but nothing to worry about.
I really hope your appointment goes well!
All the best 🙂 x
Hi Kate - I’m glad to read that your boss was so supportive, and also that your husband will be close by when you have your appointment. That’s lovely to think of what your sister would be saying to you - she would be right.
It’s hard to describe mammograms, and it may be different for different size breasts. My remaining one is quite small and the biggest difficulty I seem to have is getting into the right position so they can get a good picture. Be prepared for the radiologist to push and pull you into position - that doesn’t hurt, though. Your breast then gets compressed under this plastic guard thing - it’s not comfortable, but I wouldn’t say it’s overly painful and it is over very quickly. I find the positions I have to stand in more awkward - you may understand when you have yours, or maybe you will be better able to get into position! I have heard it suggested that you take paracetamol beforehand, but I always forget.
I hope you get your appointment through quickly, and then the reassurance you want. Now is the time to be extra kind to yourself, lots of lovely treats and things to keep your mind occupied. I’m sure you would say the same to your patients, but it’s never easy to take our own advice is it. Maybe try having a “worry time”, a fixed time each day when you will allow yourself to think of it, but if it comes into your mind any other time you park it until the worry time. Just a thought, you may have your own coping strategies.
Nobody will think worse of you if you lean on them for a change, but if it’s hard for you to do that then that is where this forum can step in. Chat away, anytime, and don’t forget the nurses on here too if you want to chat to them on the phone.
Thank you so much for your really lovely reply. I have yet to receive my call/letter for breast clinic yet, however I only saw my Gp yesterday, so I know it will take a little while. I didn’t get much sleep last night, but decided to keep busy after dropping my children at school.
Christmas wrapping has passed a few hours and has kept my mind occupied, which is half the battle.
As a nurse I struggle with letting my guard down and constantly feel I have to remain strong and support my extended family and friends. It’s a great quality, but at times a negative one. I messaged my boss to let her know I will likely be needing some time out of work at short notice, she immediately rang me this morning and was really supportive, this helped and she also said the things you have said, which of course are correct.
Luckily my husband works at the hospital, so he can legitimately be in the building, I really need him close by, I’m know they will look after me, I’m just scared of the memories/flashbacks it will unleash. I also know my big sister would be saying “you’ve got this and you will get through it, whatever the outcome”
I’m really glad you had a good experience at the hospital during COVID-19, the statistics regarding Cancer diagnosis during this time are so alarming, as we know Cancer has not gone away.
I’ve been told I will likely have a mammogram and a ultrasound scan as I’m 41, are mammograms painful, it’s the one thing I didn’t attend with my sister.
Hi meme79 - I am so sorry to read the very sad news about your sister, and your worries about your own lump, and I’m going to start by sending you some gentle virtual hugs.
I totally understand your reasons for keeping this news to yourself at the moment, so I hope that we on this forum can help support you while you wait for your tests and results. This is a very safe place to say whatever you want, cry, offload, people will be here to listen without judgment.
It is really horrible that Covid has put a stop to us taking anyone along to our appointments. I had my annual mammogram last week. I was terrified as last year they had to biopsy another lump and I was scared about what they would find this year and I wasn’t allowed to take anyone with me. However, the waiting for the appointment was worse than the reality. When I arrived the nurses looked after me, though there was some waiting of course. Maybe you could ask someone to sit outside in the car park and wait for you - and should the worst happen maybe you will be allowed to call them and have them come in (depends on the hospital rules of course), or you can go out to see them for support.
You are a nurse and already know the statistics, and of course you won’t be able to believe them when your sister fell into the 2%. But that doesn’t mean you will also fall into the 1:10. Try to remember that “fears are not facts” and as one of the other lovely CC on here, Shi, says “you don’t have BC until someone diagnoses it”.
Do you have a date for your appointment? You are a nurse, and clearly a lovely and thoughtful one from reading your post, so I’m going to ask you how you would reassure a patient who came to you with your story? We can often be harder on ourselves than we would be to a friend/patient.
I hope we can help you find the strength to go to your appointment to get checked out. My very best wishes, Evie xx