This article is published under no name but a true story is behind the words and in sharing it, I hope it may help another woman in a similar situation.

Deep thoughts

Deep thoughts

Somewhere near my 36th/37th week of pregnancy, I felt a pea sized lump in my armpit. I presumed this was an ingrown hair and let it be. I checked a few days later and it had gone. 

I wasn’t to feel the lump again until I’d given birth. 

Three days after the birth of my son, I once again felt the lump, this time it wasn’t going to go away. In the following days, I decided to visit the doctors just to check it wasn’t infected. 

As I’d previously thought this was an ingrown hair or blocked sweat gland, I was expecting this to be a quick confirmation and the doctor to send me on my way. 

I entered the doctors room and proceeded to tell her about the lump and how I’d felt it previously only to go. 

The doctor said that when a woman comes to the doctors for a lump under her arm, the first thing they do is a breast examination. I agreed to having my breasts checked, I had regularly previously checked my own breasts for lumps and never felt anything.

After feeling both armpits and breasts, the doctor explained to me that she thought the lump under my arm was a large lymph node and felt an additional ‘ ridge’ of tissue in my right breast - the same side as the lump in my armpit. This came as a bit of a shock as I’d never felt anything, the tissue was only touchable when laid down on my back. 

She went on to tell me that she was going to refer me to the breast cancer clinic for a check up. Having just given birth and feeling extremely vulnerable, this scared the heck out of me. However, I knew this was the correct decision and the best course of action.

The doctor explained that I’d have an appointment within two weeks, in the meantime they’d check my bloods too. Suddenly I had a flashback to my first pregnancy and a conversation I had with a midwife, we were talking about cancer and she said people needing treatment happened ‘all too often’. 

That same day I received a call from the doctors booking me in the clinic for the following week. I was hugely grateful for the speedy referral. 

Rather stupidly, I began googling things and that put huge amounts of fear into me. This didn’t help at all and created a huge amount of additional unneeded stress. I was worried about potentially needing a biopsy and still breastfeeding - thinking if I would be best to stop feeding now before my milk fully came through. 

I called my local midwife who suggested I keep on feeding. She tried to comfort me and told me that you can get milk ducts in your armpits that sometimes pop up. She spoke to a breast cancer nurse on my behalf and checked the procedure. She informed me that I’d have a physical examination, then an ultrasound and at that point, if required I’d have a needle based syringe test, all would mean I could continue to feed. Had the requirement for a full biopsy occurred, I could still feed if I wanted.

Over the next week, I tried to remain positive but I had many anxiety attacks - made no better by the lack of sleep. 

On the morning of the scan, I turned up at the clinic. I filled in a short questionnaire and waited to see the consultant. 

When it was my turn, I was escorted to the examination room and told to take my top and bra off. The consultant came in, spoke to me and then inspected my breasts. 

He couldn’t feel much of the ‘ridge’ the doctor had felt but could feel the raised lymph node. 

He sent me for a scan and the sonographer could see the lymph node but didn’t think it looked enlarged, just a little close to the surface. The ridge on my breast looked like normal tissue. Her and the consultant spoke and I was released from care with no further action, no need for needles or biopsy - just a note to keep an eye on the lymph node. 

There’s always going to be worry and Googling symptoms is somewhat of a norm these days but until you have more information on your particular case, lots of similar symptoms can have various impacts on health, many caused by very different things - most you will not find in related searches online. 

Though still in my 30’s (just), I’ve already lost a good friend to breast cancer, a number of others have been successfully treated and some have had precautionary mastectomies. Breast cancer is a really volatile form of cancer and it’s imperative to catch it early.  

Remember to check your breasts regularly - do so in both standing and lying down positions and don’t forget to check your armpits and collarbone area for lumps too. 

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