A candid tale of 20-something humanness and extended note to self.

Friday, 17 April 2015

When things go tits up




A couple of weeks ago, whilst soaping up in the shower on an otherwise ordinary Saturday, I discovered a hard lump in my right breast. Bigger than a pea, smaller than a marble.


Inspired by the kickass, let's-not-fuck-about attitude of Coppafeel founder, Kris Hallenger, who I was lucky enough to stumble across at a work conference last year, I marched straight off to my GP. Due to other far more invasive medical investigations a couple of years ago, my GP and I have already had a fairly intimate relationship, so displaying my bumpy breast to him was a surprisingly easy feat. After a good ol' fashioned feel, and a chat about my family history (breast cancer is totally a thing for us...), he referred me to the breast clinic. Urgently. He then told me not to lose any sleep over it and sent me on my way.

It turns out that it's pretty hard not to lose sleep over the thought and sudden very real possibility that you might actually have breast cancer. It doesn't matter that the statistics are in your favour. It doesn't matter how optimistic you are in general. When you can feel this mysterious thing inside of you, this thing that might be threatening the beautiful, insignificant trail of your existence: the same existence that, conveniently, has never felt more precious or more fucking spectacular than it does right now, you're absolutely going to lose your shit.

Between my initial doctor's appointment and my breast clinic visit, I named the lump Leroy, cried myself to sleep a few times, got royally pissed and, erm, spilled some quite dramatic tears at a wedding (yup, I was thaaaat guest), had an angry moment, decided that the Macarena will be the pinnacle feature of my funeral, ate loads of pizza, struggled to concentrate on anything at work, spent way too much money on midi skirts (it turns out retail therapy is ACE... For five impulsive minutes), had an inspired moment of empowerment, and tortured myself on Google. I also threw affection around like confetti, because 'OH-EM-GEE, mortality! We need to tell the beautiful humans that we love them!' Ultimately, I was totally unpredictable for the duration: a ray of 'I'm probably going to ruin your day' glumshine one moment, and an 'I DO FEEL THE FEELS' romantic poet for the rest.

I told a few of my nearest and dearest about Leroy, and although they were, and are wonderful humans, they reacted in the expected ways: the ways I know I would have reacted if somebody had confided in me. 'You'll be fine,' 'just put it out of your head', and 'there's no point worrying until you know' became staples of the reassurance that didn't serve as reassurance to me at all. All I really wanted was for somebody else to validate that 'yes, lumps in boobs are terrifying and actually quite a stressful and crappy experience and yes, it could indeed be the big, bastard c but still, it probably isn't because of this, this, and this, and no, you're totally not stupid for feeling how you feel, and this is exactly what will happen next.' That's where the Breast Cancer Care support line came in, and the lady I spoke to was an absolute bloody marvel.

I had my breast clinic appointment yesterday. Again, it involved a slightly odd, but thoroughly unembarrassing 'HERE-ARE-MY-GAZONGAS' moment with a middle-aged professional, who, after cupping, squeezing, stroking and poking my chest, nodded his head and reassured me that he had no concerns. Due to its size, location, and texture, it's almost definitely a hormonal cyst. I was so relieved to hear his words that I almost cried, again. I could have kissed him. (I didn't). I'm booked in for an ultrasound just to be on the safe side, but things are looking good.

The moral of this story? CHECK YOUR BOOBS! I demand it with so much passion. I never thought I'd find a lump either, but heyho, there it was, and if it had been sinister and I hadn't been checking...Well, I guess this could have been a very different story indeed. Your health is your wealth, folks. Coppafeel have an amazing text reminder service that will keep you in check (pardon the pun), so there really is no excuse. Sign up. Sign up right now. Go. DO IT. And if you need any more convincing, read Kris's story here.

When life gives you lemons, get them out. And when things go tits up, it's totally normal and definitely okay to not be okay. At least you'll end up with some nice skirts.

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