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"Not Good News" 
On Friday 12th October I was sitting in the study doing some work on the computer. I was fiddling with the edge of my bra because the lace edge had tucked under and was annoying me. In the process of fixing this and scratching the irritated skin, I found a lump. After establishing that the lump was a lump I wondered "When is a lump a lump and when is a lump just a bumpy bit of tissue?". Despite the warnings, I had never self-examined as I assumed that one of the up-sides of barely filling a B cup was that I would escape the dangers of breast cancer. Over the weekend I asked Jonathan if he could feel the lump. Of course he diligently conducted a thorough investigation, saying that he thought he should check hourly in case the lump moved....(he honestly expected me to agree). We then forgot about it. On Monday Jonathan phoned me mid-morning about a work issue and before he hung up, he said "Did you make an appointment to check out that lump?". I hung up and wondered what the procedure was at the doctor's surgery. I felt a bit stupid wasting their time. I was fit and healthy, I had absolutely no reason to suspect anything sinister and I thought the doctor would laugh at me and call me paranoid, particularly as I was small chested. I phoned the surgery and asked what the procedure was. The receptionist was casual and friendly and made it sound simple. "You just make an appointment to see the practice nurse and then she will call the GP in if she thought it was worth investigating". I said thank you and was about to hang up when she said "Why don't you come down now?" I live close to the surgery and was about to walk into town anyway so I agreed. On my arrival the nurse was excellent. I fully expected her to say that the lump I had found WAS my breast but she casually said she would just get the GP to double-check. Great! That would be the same doctor who I frequently visited with my children, who was a member of my gym and who usually encountered me fully clothed. He was, however, most professional and said he thought every lump was worth investigating so he would refer me for more checks. The nurse explained that I would receive a letter over the next few days offering me an appointment at the hospital. It was always the case that patients are seen within 2 weeks.

The next two weeks went by quickly. I did not give it much thought. I even attended a breast cancer fundraiser with Jan and Helen and during the evening I went through a leaflet which outlined the criteria that could increase a woman's risk of getting breast cancer. I ticked NO to every one. I went down the list of criteria that supposedly DECREASES your risk of getting the disease (things such as breast-feeding, staying within a healthy weight range etc) and I ticked YES to every one. Nothing to worry about at all. I only told a few people I was even going for the checkup - it wasn't worth mentioning really.

Monday morning came and in the shower I checked the lump. Still there. I thought, okay, what if they tell me it is suspicious? I would fly home to Australia for treatment immediately. I was not keen about going into hospital here. Jacob came into the bathroom for a shower and that was the end of my thought process.

I insisted on going alone although Jonathan wanted to come with me. At the hospital I was examined by a breast surgeon who suggested it may be a cyst. Also examined by a lovely student doctor whose hands were a lot warmer than the surgeon's!! Nothing to worry about I thought. Step 2 - the mammogram. I don't want to put people off and I am sure there are some very skilled mammographers (is that the right word?) out there. However, I was placed in the hands of a torturer who should have been attending an Anger Management course. Visualise lying sideways on the road with your head wrenched up at unnatural angle and your breast being squeezed forward before a tractor drives over it and has the handbrake jammed on mid-nipple. When the vice was eventually released, I was so stunned I stumbled backwards, which was very lucky for Mrs Flatpack Co-ordinator because I was about to flatpack her nose! After gathering my dignity and what was left of my tits, I shuffled out of there only to be greeted by ten pairs of wary eyes silently asking me if it was REALLY necessary to scream quite that loudly. Step 3 - the ultrasound. Memories of watching my babies wriggle in my tummy came flooding back which prompted me to insist that I really WAS more well endowed before years of breastfeeding. She didn't seem to give a shit really. Much murmuring and quiet but carefully guarded comments led me to believe - nothing. At least it was in a more soothingly darkened room and barely registering on the pain scale. Step 3 - the biopsy. Small needle, bit painful but as my boobs were still numb and flatpacked I reasoned anything was bearable. Of you go for a cup of tea they suggested. Come back in 50 minutes. As I was about to go back into the waiting room, Jonathan phoned and said he would come and join me. Despite my protestations he did and we were called in to see the surgeon. Three people were present in addition to us. The student doctor standing well back and the nurse, standing by the window. "Not good news, I'm afraid. The tests show a malignant tumour". Jonathan and I looked at each other. I took a deep breath and said "Okay, how do we deal with this then..."
PS. I would really like to upload a picture of left boob in a vice to add to this text but that might be going too far......

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Enjoying The Autumn Air 
This morning Lisa, Kerry and I set off for Bedgebury and cycled through the beautiful autumn woodlands. It was very peaceful and refreshing and so lovely to get some fresh air! We stopped half way around for a break and it was so quiet that you could hear the leaves tinkle against each other as they fell to the ground. Kerry wanted to kill us by going around again but 9 miles was enough for Lisa even though she had ample padding protecting her bottom (she's gonna kill me!) I came home and had soup for lunch (made by Lucy), begrudgingly handed my ironing over to Kerry (well, she insisted!) and succumbed to Tracy's insistance that the girls go over there on Saturday. For dessert I finished off the chocolate kindly sent to me by Emma (from the gym). After topping up the six vases of flowers I have received recently, I tried on the pyjamas given to me by Wendy (for hospital) then checked my emails on my new laptop (bought without so much as a squeak of protest by my lovely husband!). After a brief nap, I woke up feeling quiet nauseous - when will it be the right time to tell them 'I'm just kidding! There's nothing wrong with me at all!?' If I have a chance to write earlier tomorrow, I will tell the story from the beginning ie. discovering the lump, because people keep asking.

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