A photo of me on the 6th of July, 2011, our 11th Wedding Anniversary.
It was another lovely, ordinary, Summer morning. We were having breakfast, Dave, myself and the two children. They were off school but I had work at 11am. We were all in good form when my phone rang. It was only a few minutes past 9am, around 9:06, and it was a Cork number ringing. I answered and then went into the sitting room to talk. It was Breast Care Nurse Norma Downing ringing from CUH with my mammogram results. We had only left there at 4pm the previous evening and they close at 5pm, so technically, it was only an hour later. Wow, they were quick. So, she explained very calmly that a few areas of concern had showed up in my mammogram and that they wanted me in the following Monday for a biopsy. OMG! I started crying on the phone to the poor nurse. I knew it, I just knew there was something serious wrong. Why else would they be ringing me so early in the morning. I was completely shattered, gutted, traumatised, crying big, sad tears of despair.
Nurse Norma was so lovely to me. She soothed me and explained that I had an extensive area of calcification in my right breast which need further investigation. It may or it may not mean anything. The doctors wanted me in so that they could do an ultrasound examination of my breast (that's with the gel, like they do when you are pregnant), and then they may or they may not do a biopsy. She explained that there are two types of biopsies, an ultrasound biopsy and a mammogram biopsy. And that they may not do either on me, or they might decide to do both, depending on the initial ultrasound examination.
So, I might have Breast Cancer, or I might not, I might need a biopsy, or I might not. It was just such overwhelming news. I tried to pull myself together on the phone but it was impossible. I was so upset. I could just about understand what she was explaining to me, not to mind trying to comprehend the impact the results could have on my life. And the facts were there, I had to go to CUH the following Monday for further examination.
When I got off the phone from Nurse Norma, it rang again. This time it was my local GP. He was very positive and upbeat and explained that this is standard procedure and basically told me not to worry about it at all. Again, he explained that 9 out of 10 biopsy results are benign and as I had no symptoms and no family history of Breast Cancer, that I should not worry. He explained that the biopsies are simple procedures and that the man who would carry them out, Max Ryan, was a gentleman. My GP, who I know since I was a child was trying to reassure me. But in the back of my mind I kept thinking, oh man, if the doctor is ringing me, it means the hospital were already on to him, which means it is serious. And I was right, the hospital had already rang him and he was trying to contact me before they did so try to keep me calm.
When I got off the phone, I went to the door of the kitchen and beckoned Dave out. He could see that I had been crying. He came out into the hall to me because I did not want to the children to see me in that state. I started bawling crying and hugged him and said that the hospital had rang with my mammogram results and that I most probably needed a biopsy on Monday. It was one of those life changing events. I felt that my life had changed forever. I knew myself that I had Breast Cancer but that it just had to be confirmed. I did not know what would happen next but I was scared, terrified, worried, unhappy and very nervous for what the future might hold.
I finally stopped crying, pulled myself together and got ready for work. It is strange, but even when you get news like that, life still goes on. I had to go to work and act as normal. Nobody knew yet, and really, there was nothing to know yet either. I put on my brave face, composed myself and headed off to work. I held it together all day and to be honest, no one would have know the difference.
But inside, deep down, I was a nervous wreck that day. And all weekend. I couldn't sleep properly. It is an awful worry to have something like that hanging over you. Unbelievably frightening. And, yet, there was nothing I could do but wait.