I quickly bopped the alarm clock off before it woke my husband.
I stretched as I left that lovely bedwarmth and roam my hands subconsciously over my boobs. Contrary to popular belief, we women do fondle our bits like men, it’s just that our bits are a nicer thing to fondle in the morning than theirs! Find me a man who disagrees!
Hang on a mo, what’s that?
Hmm. I look at my right hand. Nope, nothing strange there. I put my right hand to the left boob and pressed gently.
Fuck fuck fuck.
My stomach swiftly left it’s normal location and entered my throat. I glanced over at my sleeping husband. Oh dear God, can’t be.
I sat on the loo with my head in my hands.
Nah, can’t be.
Kissing my husband goodbye I left home and entered denial.
2 days avoidance
2 nights of no sleep
2 days acting normal
2 nights silently fearing death
I pick up the phone.
‘ is it an emergency?’
‘course it fucking is you silly cow’ I want to say ‘ I think so yes’ I mutter
‘can you tell me what it is?’
deep breath. ‘i’ve found a lump’
‘Doctor can see you in the morning’.
Stomach once more returns to it’s new location. Throat
I get the lady doctor. ‘ok, lets have a look then, go behind the curtain and take your top off’
Top off, and she pops her head around the curtain ‘ok, don’t tell me where it is, arms above your head’
She stands there looking from left to right, then dives for THE spot.
‘is it there?’
Bingo? Bloody bingo. Jesus Christ!
After probing and pressing and delving her hand into my armpit, she declares that she thinks it’s nothing too much.
‘Can you tell that to my imagination please?’ I say.
‘Appointment will be in about 6 weeks’
6 weeks? But but.
I check the post daily, waiting for the appointment. I still haven’t told my husband.
Eventually I have to as I’m avoiding any contact. Problem is with men, they see our boobs as a comforter so lack of contact means all manner of things. Usually that you have a headache!
5 weeks later and I’m entering the hospital
I turn a corner and see row upon row of people. It was like a tube of smarties. Every colour, every race, every age and even men and not just ones accompanying their spouse. I squeeze into a seat and try not to look around too much.
Can you spot someone with breast cancer?
Can you see the ones that have no hope?
Is that me?
I came prepared and pull out a book to read. Every time a door opens we all look up from our own little worlds. You can’t help but stare at the person that comes out of the examination room. All carrying a slip of paper; some pink, some white, some yellow.
‘ Mrs Edwards’
I crease the page in the book though god only knows why as I’ll have to reread it all later, and follow the nurse.
‘go behind the curtain and slip your top off please, doctor will be along in a minute’
The door closes and I sit on the bed that is resplendent in blue paper cloth from top to bottom. There is a strange peace as you wait. The Doctors are obviously working a shuttle system from one room to the next. Faces must not register only boobs, boobs and more boobs. I wonder if they are ‘boob men’ out of hours? I look down and am aware of my vulnerability and that these things are precious to me and also sexual to men. How do I sit here, half naked and present myself to a completely strange man without it looking, well, you know, odd? I straighten my spine and suck in my tummy. Gradually the posture slips but as I hear the door open, I straighten up again
‘Ah, Mrs Edwards, tell me the problem then’ says the ‘Mr’ as two specialist nurses stay in the background .
I’m told to lay down with hands above my head and the prodding, poking, manipulating begins. And I was worrying about coming across as a half naked lady? No fear there. His hand seems to disappear into my arm pit. I felt like it was going to come out of my throat like a Paul Daniels magic trick. He’s kneading my boobs like they were bread dough, slowly edging towards THE spot. I’m starting to cringe as I know that if he carries on like this, it’s going to…
Youch! He found it.
I bite my lip rather than give him some verbal.
‘we’ll just take a sample for tests’
will we indeed!
A sample means a gleaming long needle heading my way.
‘You’ll just feel a slight prick’
where have I heard that before?
A sharp intake of breath and it’s in.
The nurses are still looking on, and, to my surprise, do look like angels. Leaning in with faces full of sympathy in their statuesque silence.
Then the needle is being plunged up and down, exploring my inner self.
My eyes were growing wider and wider. The pain was immense; but then I’m a woos! I must stop concentrating on the pain
‘ If this is how you get your kicks with a woman then I’d hate to be your wife’ I said through gritted teeth
The elastic holding the heads of the nurses as they bent over me pinged them back to erect very swiftly. The concerned Mona Lisa smiles disappearing to horror. Mmm.. surely McMillain nurses come across humour sometimes?
The oncologist found it amusing thank god and apologised for his probing. It went on and on
‘ if you do much more I’m going to retaliate in kind’ I said, and I meant it. If I could have grabbed him where it hurt I may have been tempted never to let go until his eyes looked like a bullfrog!
Eventually it’s over and it’s off for a mammogram. Bliss. Nothing can hurt like the aspiration.
Have you ever had your boobs crushed between two cold plates and then squeezed some more just to be sure? Then you get berated because you aren’t standing just right when your head just wants you to pull away. Then I had a funny thought; if the fire alarm went off now, would I be left in a burning building with my left tit in a vice as the radiographer ran to escape?
But maybe I’d be rescued by a dashing fireman?
Feeling ragged I was sent on to another department. I was now getting use to the ‘strip off behind the curtain’ routine and wondered why I bothered getting dressed again at all. Ultrasound next. Would this one hurt too?
I lay topless in the dark and felt like going to sleep. That was until the wicked woman covered me in incredibly cold gel. It was like the KY gel factory had exploded! All over my boobs, my armpits and sliding slowly down my sides and stomach as this shower head contraption took pictures from every angle as it slid over my boobs. How do they tell anything from these black and white images? I was tempted to ask if it was a boy or a girl but found myself instead asking for a picture.
I was handed more of the blue cloth and wiped myself down, trying to remove every trace of gel. Time to go back to normality, well, that was what I hoped. Clutching my scan I left the nightmare, well, at least until the afternoon when I’d be back for the results.