Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How I found my breast cancer alien

Mid-November I found a lump under my right arm.  I am conscious of how my body usually feels.  I thought I was fighting an infection and a gland had swollen; at that time of year this wouldn't be strange.  Two weeks later the lump was still there.

I went to see the school nurse.  She thought that the lump was a cyst and sent me to my GP.

On the 15th December, I saw my GP. She also thought the lump was a cyst. It wasn't hard and was mobile.  Cancerous lumps are supposed to be hard and cling to bits of tissue. There was concern that it was on my lymph gland.  She made an appointment to see me again.

Over Christmas I found a lump in my right breast.  At times in the month I have very lumpy breasts.  This is not unusual for young women and has been something that happens to me for at least ten years. This critter wasn't of the normal kind.  It felt harder and hadn't disappeared with the advent of my period.

On 28th December, I saw my GP again.   She checked me and told me that she was going to refer me to the breast clinic at Kings College Hospital.

Things suddenly changed pace.  A nurse called me on the 29th to arrange an appointment with a specialist on January 3rd.  The specialist diagnosed the lump under my arm as a lymph node.  He thought the lump in my breast was a cyst and organised for me to have an ultrasound the next day.

During the ultrasound it became clear that the mass in my breast wasn't a cyst. The doctor performed an aspiration test on my lymph node. She took a core biopsy.

Sitting in the waiting room of the clinic at Kings, now the 12th of January, I wasn't concerned. I'd been to running club the night before and managed 11km with the fast ladies.  I was fit and healthy. 

The consultant explained that the pathologists had found breast cells in my lymph node. My brain flipped: Welcome alien. Let battle commence.


  1. Oh Charlie, I just want you to know I have rallied the emotional support of half of Connecticut and New York for you. You are thought of by more people than you can imagine. Everything you write is inspiring, and thank you for your strength in posting this. xo

  2. I can very much sympathise with all of this - I wasn't concerned, I was fit and healthy. Or so I thought. You know and I know these nasty aliens have picked a battle with the wrong people. Go girl!

  3. I saw a tweet about this (but didn't read the full title) and thought "Oh, Charlie's probably set up a new squad or something equally cool. Let's take a look". Couldn't have been further from the truth - wishing you all the best to come through the other side. NickF