I Found a Lump – My First Mammogram

| April 20, 2015 | 2 Comments

breast screening

I found a lump in my breast just before Easter. It was a “is that what I think it is?” moment.

I wasn’t expecting it. Who does, really?

But you do the checks, like they tell you, you should. And this time I felt a lump. I expected it would be the stereo-typical pea sized hard lump, but this was more like a long bead and I could only feel it when standing or sitting, not lying down.

breast screening

I turned 40 last year and it is recommended that you start to have regular mammograms at 40, and that you should be “breast aware” from age 20, but mammograms (the best method for the early detection of unsuspected breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of breast cancer) are not free in the New Zealand public health system unless you are aged 45-69, or you are covered by health insurance.

So after a couple of days of “is it or isn’t it?” I made an appointment with my doctor to get it checked out. She was great, thought it was not suspicious, but wanted me to get an expert opinion on it for everyone’s piece of mind. She referred me to a particular practioner at the Breast Associates clinic at Ascot – why are there no clinics in West Auckland?! – but advised that if she wasn’t available straight away to just ask for the next available appointment with anyone.

Some people might freak out at that point, but she reassured me she knew what it was like to wait and wanted me to get piece of mind asap!

So when I rang the clinic I was given the option of an appointment mid-May (4 weeks away) with the referred practitioner, or the next day with the breast surgeon.

I’ll take the next day thanks!

And it is times like these that make you thankful to have friends willing to take on your boys at short notice in the school holidays! Thanks Bex xx

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer to affect New Zealand women – every year 2,750 women and 20 men in this country will be diagnosed.

Around five to ten per cent of breast cancers are hereditary i.e.  a breast cancer gene (e.g. BRCA1 or BRCA2) has been passed on.  However, most breast cancers are diagnosed in women with no family history of the disease.

The risk of breast cancer increases with age, but does affect some women in their twenties and thirties.  Around five per cent of all cases will affect women under the age of 40.

Maori women are 40 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than non-Maori women and 60 per cent more likely to die of the disease.*

Breast cancer is primarily a woman’s disease, but around one per cent of cases will affect men.**

Every year, more than 650 women die from breast cancer in New Zealand, almost two every day.**

*Cancer: New registrations and deaths 2011, Wellington: Ministry of Health.)
**Ministry of Health

So sitting in the waiting room the next day waiting for my mammogram and ultra-sound it struck me that this is the place where the journey with cancer starts for so many women. It was a little confronting and lonely.

breast screening exam2

Yep, I took photos!

I must say at this point that I wasn’t worried, I like to rely on my instinct and in this case it was telling me that all would be fine. Plus I have health insurance, so I didn’t have the added worry of how much this was all costing me, as I witnessed with another patient in the reception area.

It is a reality for so many… how do you weigh it up? A mammogram or a week’s worth of groceries for a family of 4? I thanked the Universe I wasn’t in that position.

I couldn’t fault the staff there either. They were all so lovely, and made me feel totally at ease. Even when I got called back for second mammogram photos, and then third… just to be sure.

Then I had my ultra-sound, again awesome staff. The doctor on staff even came in to have a better look, she wanted to explain to a student what she could see, just to clarify, all the while assuring me everything looked normal. Sweet!

So what was the lump?

As the breast surgeon explained it, after we had a chat about my recent history and the fact I have lost a bit of weight, including 8cm off my bust (to date 8kg and 38cm gone, go me!), it turns out what I am feeling is normal breast tissue. It seems there is a bit of an empty space around it where the fat used to be!!

Cue a sigh of relief and a pat on the back for trusting my instinct and not getting too stressed out.

I think it helped that the process all happened quite quickly, from finding the lump, getting in to see my doc and then the breast clinic. I really didn’t fancy waiting around for another four weeks!

So my story has a happy ending, but I am conscious of the fact that for so many others the journey is just beginning.

Kia Kaha ladies, and for all others please check your boobies regularly.

For more information on breast health please go to the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation website.

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Category: Gratitude, Health & Beauty

Comments (2)

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  1. Karine says:

    Nicky, lucky girl! My relationship with Breast Associates started out very similar 1o years ago, funny same age as you. I’ve been in that ‘danger’ zone now for those 10 years – thank goodness always getting a clear, but same thoughts every annual check up now. It’s what goes through my brain sitting in that waiting room to see my specialist before going in – is this it? Is this the visit my journey changes? Thank goodness for being fortunate enough to afford medical insurance as my annual check up gets into near 4 figures it’s so extensive. I consider it a treat, yip a treat to be able to be this vigilant in my check ups. And I NEVER take that treat for granted. Great post!

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