I don't exactly ever consciously do a breast check for any lumps but for some reason I had a little check and felt something a little different. I knew I was probably due on so put it down to that, (as your breasts can feel significantly bigger and more tender) so told myself to check after.
My period went and I checked again but the lump was still there. I got my husband to have feel too because I thought I could just be feeling something that wasn't as bad as I thought. I left it another week or so because again wasn't sure if it was hormone related due to my PCOS. But it was still there.
I decided I'd rather get it checked out and make sure it was nothing from someone who knows, rather than me just assuming it was fine. I booked the appointment and went in to have the doctor check my breast. It didn't bother me if it was male or female but I had a female doctor who did the examination. She said she found a pea sized lump and felt I needed to be referred to the breast clinic.
To be honest I was a little taken a back because I just assumed she would tell me it was tissue or just it was nothing straight away but she didn't. Now I had to wait for my referral which would be in the next two weeks. In true NHS form the communication between my doctors and the breast clinic was terrible, I rang one, then the other, then the other again. The breast clinic were lovely, it was my doctors taking the time to even get the referral booked. Even though I know most checks come back being all fine, the nerves and worry was getting to me and causing stress. Stress is my epilepsy trigger which resulted in me having a seizure.
My Mum told me to call the breast clinic again to find out how far along I was. No record of me. I called my doctors and was told referrals can take up to two weeks - what two weeks to get a referral to go through? I then explained the stress had triggered seizure. After being put on hold a couple of times I was then told the secretary I would have my appointment booked that day and would hear on Wednesday. Annoying it took me to chase to get it sorted. I recall something similar happening with all my epilepsy testing, which if you knew me back then caused no end of health problems from drastic weightloss and depression.
I finally chased again and was given an appointment the following week. I went to a specialist breast clinic at a nearby hospital do undergo tests. I initially thought I'd be having a mammogram - which is essentially a metal plate you pop your breast on to be scanned, luckily my breasts are still too pert for this examination and I needed an ultrasound done. A mammogram is usually for ladies over the age of 40 because the breast tissue is moveable. I actually had an ultrasound which soon led to the specialist telling me I was required to have a biopsy, which is when your breast is injected and some of the cells from the lump are removed to be tested.
This was rather painful and I have been left with a big bruise on my breast which is slowly going down. I don't mind needles as I used to give blood regularly before I was diagnosed with epilepsy, but this was such a weird feeling and rather uncomfortable. As my breasts are young they found it hard to extract the cells which meant it was taking longer. I had a nurse, radiographer and student all in there with me, the nurse was chatting to me to keep my mind at rest throughout. I left the clinic feeling pain in that breast because of all the examinations and was told I shouldn't do any lifting for around 24hours. I just had to wait.
I was then told I was required to come back in for a follow up appointment. Now, as you can imagine that really alarmed me. Why did they need me to go back in? They knew I can't drive due to my epilepsy and the hospital is not easy for me to get to, so all I kept thinking was that it's clearly worse than expected. I had one week to wait and in the end I called Breast Cancer Care to get their advice on the matter - why was I being called in if everything was fine? As a frequent visitor to hospital I know that if things are 'fine' you will get a call or a letter. The lady on the phone was lovely but obviously couldn't tell me anything to calm my worry. The rest of that week was hell.
Long story short it turned out to be a benign lump (non cancerous) and I require no further treatment unless it changes. That seems so simple when I'm typing it but my goodness I felt so confused and worried regardless of how lovely the nurses were. I never expected to find a lump - let alone need samples and tests done. Thank goodness I am finishing this post on a positive but I mainly wanted to reiterate to always check your breasts. It is so important.
If you're worried you've found a lump I suggest the following.
// Monitor it - where are you in your monthly cycle? Do what I did and wait until your next cycle if it's still there but if it's getting bigger act sooner
// Get a second opinion - I got my husband to check before I went to the doctor. I sort of thought it wasn't really there but getting clarification encouraged me to go.
// Book to see your GP - Chances are they'll tell you at the doctors it's nothing, but like me they could think more of it and have you referred.
// Chase! You may find you need to chase your doctor for a referral. Once I had been referred it was speedy. Don't get forgotten.
// Breast cancer awareness - Pop into their website, I checked out that site and the NHS web page. I know you shouldn't rely on 'dr google' but these are known for giving good facts and help.
// Better to be safe than sorry. If like me you don't want to waste any ones time, one thing I've learnt from this is get things checked anyway. If it's a firm no and all is fine then that is great news, but leave it and run the risk? I know what I'd rather do.
// Talk to someone - There are forums if you don't want to talk to family or friends... even bloggers like me.