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  • Debbie Murphy

Appointment Day

My appointment isn’t until later this afternoon and my eldest daughter will be accompanying me which is a relief. Josie is a sister in the Emergency Dept at Burton Hospital where I’m headed and so she’s back to work on her day off. The Breast Care Clinic is a dedicated building for breast cancer patients and the clinic I’m attending is a ‘New Patient Clinic’. The room soon fills up and with statistics being 1 in 8 women having breast cancer it’s apparent that many will leave today with bad news. It was weird being back here because this is where I brought my Mom for her appointments when she had breast cancer 6 years ago. I also felt as if judgement was being served on me as I’ve moaned about  the fact that there is so much more dedicated care and fundraising given to breast cancer than other lesser known cancers. My experience of kidney cancer left me feeling completely bewildered and alone. That said I can’t fault the NHS or the level of care given, this appointment has been fast tracked and the staff here are amazing. I’m first called in to see the consultant who asks to examine me, confirms the lump and says that he can also feel that my lymph nodes are swollen. The first time this happened was 2 weeks before my kidney cancer introduced itself so I wasn’t happy to hear they were back. However,  my lymph nodes have reappeared since with no sinister consequences. He takes some more information from me and then we’re sent back to the waiting room. Next I’m taken in for a mammogram which wasn’t easy given my 32AA size…However it was done swiftly by 2 lovely radiographers and I was then taken for an ultrasound scan of the area. For this there were 2 nurses and a doctor who had a look at the mammogram images then started to scan me. Thankfully she very quickly confirmed that the lump I had felt was a benign cyst. It was said very matter of fact but the relief was immense. However she then asked the nurses to take a look at the images and explained that she wasn’t happy with what she could see and I’d need another mammogram. Back out to the waiting room with Josie who was obviously becoming concerned as I’d been a while in there already.  Once the room was free again I was called for a second mammogram for which I felt like a  contortionist the way I had to be positioned. Then the radiographers accompanied me in to have another ultrasound. Lying there with 5 professionals querying what they saw made me very nervous. Then the doctor said I could take a look, it appeared as though my upper right side was shadowy compared to the left. When they zoomed right in it looked as though I had several other cysts. Once I was dressed again I was sent back out into the waiting room until I could see the  consultant again. Having learnt my lesson about wearing ridiculous clothing when attending hospital (although previously this had been in an ambulance) I’d attempted to take the lead from Lisanne Vos who wrote in her blog R U Kidneying Me about how she turned up for her surgery in gym gear with a positive mental attitude. For this appointment I looked like I’d arrived for a yoga class in leopard print Puma leggings and a fitted sports top – not easy to peel on and off for each examination,  another hospital clothing fail. It wasn’t long before I was called in to see the consultant and he got straight to the point saying that the good news was my lump was definitely  benign. He then went onto add that given my history and the fact my lymph nodes were swollen and the ultrasound scan uncertainty he was booking me in for a CT scan. This was something I’d avoided since November 2013 after having 3 CT scans + a bone scan in close succession due to my kidney cancer. However, I now felt quite relieved, I just wanted to know if there was anything nasty lurking around inside me and so the saga continues. Good news + unanswered questions = a continued state of limbo. I had thought I’d got this cancer thing sorted but it had other ideas. Last time it arrived without warning, this scare has taken up the best part of a month and taught me I have no control over that C word. It can torment your head,  attack your body, stop you from sleeping and worst of all, keep you guessing.

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