It is a worrying time, and I so understand how you feel. I am wondering whether you have or are facing other challenges, too – which make all of this even more difficult.
I shall share my story, so far with you – and hope that it may give you a better understanding and hope – should you be diagnosed.
I must encourage you to seek the relevant appointments in the shortest space of time possible though.
I, like you, had a nipple, which increasingly inverted. Having been due a mammogram just before Christmas, I was not specifically worried, especially as I could not find a lump, however much I searched for it.
When at the screening unit they told me, before I went in, that I may get a recall letter, as the first one would possibly be taken only as a reference scan.
So when the letter arrived in early January I still was not too worried – although it was at a breast care centre.
I was greeted by a Breast Cancer Care Nurse, who explained the processes I would go through.
Mammogram done – saw doctor, who said that it was a 2cm lobular invasive cancer. It is not often they tell you straight out – but the way it displayed made it very clear as to what it was. So I had an ultrasound of the breast and the armpit to check that my lymph nodes were ok.
Then a core biopsy – not pleasant, but very necessary to diagnose the actual cancer and the basis of what treatment would be appropriate.
There are many different types of cancer, different stages (size and spread), grades (how much the cell is different from normal cells) and hormone receptors (bits on the cell, which makes it grow).
Waiting for the results was simply awful.
I had been unemployed for 9 months and just been offered a job. My income protection insurance was running out and would not have paid anyway, as it does not cover sickness. I am on my own, with my only family being in Germany. I have to work to support myself and pay my rent. Benefits would simply not cover this at all. Being single it would be more than tough on the current system.
During the waiting time I researched on this fantastic site, what I could expect and tried to figure out ow to deal with each scenario and stay working.
When I went for my results towards the end of January, I met my current Breast Cancer Care nurse, a lady who accompanies me to my appointments at the centre and there to answer any questions I may have afterwards. A God sent. It was confirmed that I had a lobular invasive – a cancer, which has a more solid core and spider leg like tentacles, which spread out from it. It looked to be 2cm in size, provisionally no spread to lymph nodes, likely to be stage 1 or 2, grade 2 and ER positive. This means it reacts to, grows because of the Oestrogen (Estrogen) hormone. So all very early stages, great!
We decided that due to my smaller breasts (36b) we might just as well go for a skin sparing mastectomy with immediate reconstruction and a sentinel node biopsy, where they remove the first few lymph nodes. I asked whether they were able to make a skin bud to mimic a nipple – yes they could! I requested the operation to be delayed, because I started my new job on Feb 1. And it was agreed that it could be done on 24th March. MRI scan was done to make sure the surgeon knew exactly what to expect. Result came back as 3cm
I did not tell my new employer, when I started on Feb 1. I told them a week before the operation, I was still in my period.
The operation went really well. Drove again after week 2, worked from home week 3. One cannot tell I had a mastectomy at all – only a small scar – which is fading now.
Then the pathology results – these are from the very detailed examination of the removed tissues.
These results are the basis of decisions for any follow up treatment, should it be required.
As the cancer had been removed I was not unduly worried. However, as it turned out, my breast tissue was so dense (unusual for someone of my age) that the MRI did not pick up on the extent the ‘tentacles’ had spread. However, it was actually 11cm and some evidence of grade 3 cells - but the nodes were clear. So in every bad bit there was a good bit. I knew immediately that chemotherapy was no longer an option. The decision, however, is made jointly – and if one does not want to go through this – one does not have to. However, my predictor test – based on age, health, pathology results – gives me an 8% better chance of it nor coming back and survival over a 10 year period – so I opted for the whole lot of follow up treatment to make doubly sure it does not come back. It is 88% certain that I shall still be here and healthy in 10 years time. Pretty good odds, considering I could be knocked over by a bus in that time, lol.
So now on 2nd cycle of my chemo regime. No hair now, a look, which actually suits me – no debilitating side effects and feeling great!
So, as you can see, even if you should get diagnosed – it is no longer a death sentence for most of us – just a yucky ‘blip’
Let me know how you get on. I will do my best to support you through this challenging time for you.
I am so sorry to read that you are struggling and I can certainly understand it. I have been in the same place as you last December.
You should certainly see your GP as soon as possible and get him/her to refer you to a breast care unit for a mammogram. As you are 49, it should not really be a problem to get that referral.
Althoug it is stressful to go and have to wait for the result, it is safer to get this done. It will give you peace of mind - and if, I say if - there is something there, you have got there very early and it will be able to be sorted out. The images and horror stories we are so used to from the press just simply are not true anymore. Most cancers today are treatable and new ways of treating specific ones are being approved on a regular basis.
My thoughts are with you - you might also find this link helpful https://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/information-support/have-i-got-breast-cancer/signs-symptoms-brea...
Sadly I cannot say you have nothing to worry about - only your docor and a mammogram can do that.