Okay, so this week has got to go down in my history as one of the most stressful and hellish weeks I've had since becoming a mum. Off the back of all the success of releasing the first section of my unpublishable book and all the amazing support and comments it generated I guess it was the universe's way of tipping the scales back into balance by delivering me with a double whammy of heart-stopping hurdles to jump. I mean the last thing anyone wants is to feel like everything is going the right way for once right?!
So, first off I found a lump in my breast during one of the random spot checks I remember (on an adhoc basis) to do. I didn't think too much of it at first as I didn't really trust what I was feeling due to not feeling like an expert at checking my boobs. However, after a trip to the Doctor she confirmed that yes, it was a lump and yes it needed checking as soon as possible and I was therefore, going to be referred to a breast clinic.
I hadn't even told my hubby I'd found anything as (once again) despite all the info I've seen on how to routinely check your boobs, I am still unsure every time that I do it, that I am in fact doing it right at all. It's usually a random check when I'm in the shower, but again, is something that I always beat myself up about not doing often enough. However, I was now sat in the Doctor's surgery, after being told that in fact I had found something so my random spot checks were not so hap hazard or pointless as I had lead myself to believe.
So the next step was to tell my hubby...
It's weird and nerve wracking telling someone who loves you that you've found a lump and the drs referred you to have a scan of it... You can't stop their mind spontaneously jumping from the word "lump" to the word "cancer" all in the space of a millisecond and even if they don't vocalise their biggest fear that the words "I've found a lump" conjure up you know that's the thought that they are trying their hardest to silence as you are also doing the same.
I felt quite calm at first, as from what we are told the majority of all lumps found are not cancerous and can be explained away as harmless despite putting the fear of God in you when you come across one. So there, we were, sat in the kitchen, the kids running circles around us and trying to talk as calmly and as positively about the situation, whilst trying to contain, subdue and basically gag any thoughts and fears leading us to any other and more sinister conclusion.
I mentioned I was calm - well, that was until I received the next and final installment of the universes double whammy a few days later....
Anxious to receive a letter from the breast care clinic confirming my apt (all breast lumps are now seen within two weeks) I had been stalking our postman for a couple of days. Therefore, I quite literally pounced on him when he came across our drive holding a letter stamped with the NHS logo. I ripped it open and was so relived and grateful to see that my appointment was booked in for a couple of days time - bloody brilliant!
That was until I realised that the letter was not about my breast lump, but was in fact a letter about my results of a recent smear test (I'd totally forgotten as all thoughts had been on my boobs!). Yes to add insult to injury, my smear test results had come back and found that I had High Grade Diskaryosis (severe cell changes to my cervix) and needed further investigation and possible treatment.
I've got to admit that my world did cave in a little and any chance of me being able to contain my fears and over-active imagination that I may be looking at problems with both my boobs and my cervix took over, filling me with a deep seated and debilitating dread of what the hell would we do if both came back with bad results. As for thoughts of the children... well that was just it... that was a place I could not even let myself go to. Through the whole process, both myself and my hubby never once mentioned the girls in relation to it... I know now it was because we were both sick scared that once we dared to attempt to vocalise these fears then it may make them a reality.
So after six days of waiting, six evenings of going to bed with cervical cancer and breast cancer being the last thing on my mind and six mornings of waking up running through every best case and worse case scenario I was off to the hospital to face whatever we had to face.
First stop was the breast clinic and to say how quick, efficient and just so amazing they are at seeing you, examining you and delivering the results would be an understatement. The words "everything is normal" have never sounded so magnificent! Following a thorough examination followed by an ultrasound scan and then a meeting to discuss my results I was given the all clear and half the weight of the world left my shoulders as me and the hubby breathed a collective sigh of relief. Only one more day of tests to get through.....
Second stop, was my cervix and a Colposcopy to establish what type of abnormal cells we were dealing with. Again the NHS did me proud. The consultant was so informative and straight to the point about what was going to happen, he made the whole process so much easier to compute and get through. Even when he asked if I would be happy to have any pre cancerous cells removed (if found) during the procedure and that it would involve him putting a needle into my cervix! YES a NEEDLE in my CERVIX! I agreed as he was so matter-of-fact about it, that I found it made me be the same way and had me replying - "remove whatever you need to, just make sure you get everything!"
And that's what happened... The Colposcopy found that I had an area of 8mm of pre cancerous cells and when asked if I still wanted him to proceed with removing them I told him to "Go for it!" needle in my cervix and all! I mean, what else are you going to do when faced with your body harbouring nasty cells that could lead to you no longer being around to share a laugh and a few too many vinos with your hubby and cuddles with your Tiny Humans. "Do what you have to, get them all, and get me out of here" was my motto!
Procedure over and the specialist was pretty confident that there was no cancer visible, that he had removed all pre cancerous cells and that the results I get in about a weeks time would confirm all of this.
Thank F*&^! For that!
This week could of gone totally the other way, I could now be sat here writing a totally different account of things. I shared two waiting rooms with lots of other women who today are facing a different reality and trying to come to terms with how they will face and get through what lies ahead for them.
I am annoyed at myself to admit that I don't routinely check my boobs for lumps and can't remember when the last time was, before finding the lump the other week. I am ashamed to say that I missed two previous smear tests previous to the one that came back with my high risk results. What the hell was I playing at?!!
I don't know about all of you, but since becoming a mum, I am last on the list. My health and well being is back of the queue and most frighteningly the person keeping me as a low priority is myself. This week has been awful, but it could have ended up being the worst week of my life with me facing an uncertain future. A future where I may not be around to look after my girls. This is my wake up call. I NEED to make myself a priority, I NEED to take care of my health and well being as well as I take care of my childrens. Most importantly my hubby and my girls need me to do this for them and I need to do this for me.
So all you women out there, juggling babies, workloads, dirty washing, dreams, ambitions, relationships, be sure to make a list and put yourself and your health at the top of it. Go for the smear test, examine your boobs, get any niggling ailments checked out as quite frankly it could mean the difference of you being here or not.
Find out more about Breast care here