So, this time last year, I had not even had an appointment with the GP about a concerning lump (that was 15th August – so I must have booked it, but not told anyone). My bedroom was nearly finished (I’d been stripping it, painting it, getting electrics, furniture, carpets done) – little knowing how much time I was going to spend in it. My annual calendar was set up with teaching deadlines, and I was looking forward to some leave – as I was SHATTERED (even more so than I usually had been – we all know why now, don’t we!):
Preparing for Mammogram
My surgeon was about to go on annual leave, so I’d been invited in for my ‘1 year mammogram’ a couple of weeks early (mammogram, etc. was 23rd and diagnosis was 30th August).
I haven’t felt particularly concerned about the mammogram, as I’ve not any concerning symptoms (I do sometimes worry that I still haven’t learnt & don’t panic about every random symptom as I know some do, but maybe that’s a good thing – and I do try and observe the ‘2 week rule’ we’re recommended about anything that DOES concern me). Still thought I’d keep myself busy today however, meeting an old friend for lunch, and a new friend for finding more #BeeInTheCity
I’d rung to check last week that 4.45pm was the correct time, as there’s a sign in the waiting room saying ‘after 4.30pm, you may not be able to have a mammogram’, but because the surgeon’s going on holiday, better to see him, and if necessary come back for mammogram. I’d offered to come in earlier if it would help, to have the mammogram first, but they said the consultant always wants to check you over first (and he’s the one who requests it).
I didn’t even get a chance to sit in the waiting room – straight through to one of the rooms. Brief chat with some of the nurses, then they left me to change into the ‘wonderful’ robe:
Mr Dimoupolos then came in for a chat, told me I was looking very well, said the year had gone fast (then said, maybe not for you!). I said I’m feeling pretty positive, just struggling with fatigue and peripheral neuropathy, grabbling with the psychological effects, and waiting the next set of meds! There is no fan/air con in the treatment rooms, so by this point, despite only wearing half my clothes, sweltering and sweating!
Last night, I realised I had things I wanted to ask, and today I’ve been gradually remembering them, putting them as comments in my appointment on todoist – and then when I got in the hospital I ticked the appointment off and couldn’t see my notes = genius. Think they all came back to me though:
- Can I join exercise classes, etc or are there any restrictions? Can do anything, listen to body, and start gently – especially with weights
- Got a place on ‘Casting for Recovery‘ – need a note as to my medical fitness – trying to explain ‘fly fishing’ to someone who’s first language is Greek (we had even more fun last year when I said ‘I feel a bit ropey’!)
- Do we need to do anything about the ‘excess skin’ under my armpit (he thinks this is pretty balanced, but said we’ll have another look in November, when any radiotherapy damage should have settled down):
- He asked me how I’m dealing with the fatigue – I said I’m trying to go to bed earlier, get up when alarm goes off, and get out walking – a lot!
- The MRI scan to have for my spine should be around October, so he said a letter for that is coming, and then I’ll see him in November for the results. He said we’ll talk about any tidy up, and any likelihood of reconstruction then (I’m not particularly swayed by arguments for reconstruction yet – with long surgery + long-ish recovery time, but never say never!)
- I’m seeing Dr Chittalia in January, so sounds like I’ll swap appointments between them for a while.
The lady doing the mammogram was waiting for me (literally – she hadn’t had an appointment since 2.30pm!) so went straight through there too. They’re not fun, but I’m not too bothered by them. Whip the top half back off again …. she lines you up with the ‘straight on’ and the ‘bend to the side’ move – she did both twice – very clearly stating that this wasn’t because she’d seen anything of concern!
Only one side to do, so in and out pretty swiftly. Mr D has said that he will send a formal letter when he returns from holiday, so probably end of August, to the GP. If anyone spots any problems they won’t wait for him to come back, I’ll get a phone call and a recall… so let’s hope for the letter and turn our attention to the zoladex appointment I have some time next Monday at the Christie (no one’s told me what time yet, but I think it’s quite a long-ish one with blood tests, ECHO, bone scans, etc.)… I spoke to the specialist nurse who manages it all, and she said my blood test the other week showed that I had a (something-oestrogen) level of 2000+ and they need it to come down to around 70 (as my cancer cells – of which we hope there are none, but if there are any – are fed by oestrogen) – the zoladex will bring the levels down, kicking off a chemical menopause (whoop!).
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.