I am a 60 year old retired nurse and healthy woman on no medication and no history of any breast problems.
Mammograms since 50 years old have all been normal. I have one son delivered at age 24 who is now 35 years old. I breastfed for 12 months and had two episodes of severe mastitis during that time.
On day 14 post routine mammogram I received a letter with an appointment for the Women’s Breast Clinic in another 7 days time. I was about to leave to go on holiday to Centre Parcs and I just burst into tears. I drifted through my holiday in a haze, worry never left me. I came home two days early and went to the appointment. A lady called Gemma was at the hospital entrance and I showed her my appointment letter to anxious to speak. She saw my distress and escorted me through to the clinic, so kind and caring.
In clinic I was told by the radiographer that there was a problem with my left breast. After having repeat mammogram I was seen by the consultant radiographer Samantha Smith who following ultrasound said a biopsy was required. I had calcification in my left breast which needed to be investigated.
That afternoon I returned to the clinic for a vacuum assisted biopsy and successful insertion of a titanium clip. Six good samples were taken. Given that I was a nurse they were very open when I asked searching questions. In my mind at that point I had already had surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Although I tried I couldn’t pull back from the worst case scenario. I was expecting a result appointment in 14 days and was given one for 23 days time. I just didn’t know how I was going to live through nearly 3 weeks of not knowing. I was told that I may receive a call before that date if the results were through quicker.
My anxiety levels were off the scale, barely sleeping or eating and drifting through each day in a haze. As a student nurse at the QE I can remember sitting in to observe those results meetings and understood patients distress… and now in my mind I was that patient.
I immediately contacted Mr Basu’s secretary who arranged an appointment at The Priory for two days after my result date. I knew that if I had a positive result I would want to have surgery at the earliest point. I also knew if benign that I would want to discuss future monitoring for a few years more frequently than the 3 yearly NHS programme. She was incredibly professional and helpful.
I received a phone call on 10.9.21 from the breast clinic, 7 days prior to my scheduled results meeting. I burst into tears when I heard Jill’s voice because I knew that it meant I didn’t need to attend that appointment. I was reassured and told that my results were benign and that I would be seen in 3 years time. I can’t describe the feeling, I felt like I had just been given my life back. When I phoned my son to tell him it was very emotional. My meeting with Mr. Basu on 21.9.21 gave me further reassurance and the opportunity to ask further questions about future monitoring.
This experience has highlighted for me that should the need ever arise that I will receive all the care, support and assistance required whatever path that journey may take.
Five weeks of intense anxiety
Inaccessible and unhelpful GP service
The benign biopsy result
Family love, care and support
The care, kindness and professionalism of the breast care team
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