Contains mild swearing, flippantness (flippancy??) and occasional sarcasm. I make no apologies given the situation. I have to have a biopsy next week. Amongst other things.
So on Sunday we were watching the opening sequence of Deadpool (which I hadn’t seen yet), we got about 5 minutes in and I laughed at something so hard then I abruptly stopped, collapsed in pain clutching my chest. The stabbing pain under my right breast was unbelievable. I couldn’t breathe. I consulted Dr Google, it told me I’d probably subluxated a rib due to some “exercise” we’d done on Saturday, and that lying on a configuration of pillows on the floor was the fastest (not to mention free) way to fix this.
Half an hour later it was still feeling decidedly un-settled but at least the pain had stopped. I dosed it up with painkillers and felt around the area to try and decide if it really was a sublux’d rib or a return of my costochondritis – the condition that I have in my chest and back (technically in the back it’s sacroilialchondritis), which left me unable to walk for about 4 months in 2011 while Doctors couldn’t work out what the problem was (until finally a junior doctor in A+E put two and two together when I came in with severe chest pains, shortness of breath and pins and needles in one arm). The costochondritis is often mistaken for a heart attack until the ECG proves otherwise. It’s been mostly quiet for 4 years.
I wasn’t going to go to the doctor but as I was feeling around, I found a lump in my breast. Those longtime readers and relatives will know that my mother died of breast cancer about 18 months ago. When I was talking to my aunt about why I had no interest in the genetic testing back in February, I found out that she’s not the only family member it’s killed on my mother’s side. On the other side of my family, my granny had to have a mastectomy when she was in her forties because of breast cancer. It’s not what killed her, but that doesn’t really matter at this point. Her older sister had to have a mastectomy, too, also for breast cancer.
I went to the Doctors two days ago, feeling incredibly guilty that I’d let the receptionist talk me into taking one of the coveted same-day emergency appointments, until the doctor confirmed my worst fears. There was a real lump (I had been hoping I’d imagined it or it was part of my boob), and it needed urgent referral to the breast unit. She told me that usually they don’t do the urgent 2-week referral unless you’re over 40, although they’re trying to get that down, but in my case, due to family history, they have thankfully made an exception. I don’t think I could stand to wait 6 weeks to get this scanned. Oh yeah, and the rib pain was the costochondritis.
They called me that evening to tell me they could see me next week – on 15th June – for a mammogram and biposy to find out whether it’s cancerous or not.
Regardless of that, I’ve now got a difficult decision to make that has been thrown into the front of my mind. I looked up the stats, if I have the gene there’s an 87% chance I’ll get Breast Cancer at some point, which they can’t test me for, because my mother didn’t bother getting in touch with any of the rest of us before she died, and you need to test a relative with cancer before the healthy one for comparison, there is another test available in the UK but it’s not really very useful. She probably wanted me to get cancer. After all, this is the woman who tried to kill me then phoned the police on me for dropping a tissue on the floor when she was doing her sleep deprivation routine on me one night because she’d converted from Catholicism to Spiritualism and I refused to go with her to a church where people claim to speak to ghosts. I hadn’t spoken to her in 9 years when she died. I don’t know why my dad died 4 months later (literally, the autopsy brought up nothing) but I’m pleased for him that he outlived her.
I’m all for getting the mastectomy out of the way right now so I don’t have to deal with this roulette. People who say you’re being silly about it (and let’s face it, Angelina Jolie got a metric fucktonne of criticism for doing it) don’t actually know what it’s like to play Russian roulette in a game where you have to fire the gun six times. You know it’s hanging over your head, you know it’s coming, you just want to get it over with. I’ve had this haunting me ever since she died, but I didn’t know the probability until I did some research after finding this lump.
I’ve gone a bit hypomanic since seeing the doctors. I started thinking on this this morning, having not really had time to think between seeing my doctor and ending up in hospital with an unfortunate and badly timed allergic reaction, and I actually feel quite buoyant. If I have cancer, there’s every chance it’s really early stage, so then I don’t have to make any decision about my boobs – it’s a total no-brainer, if I have cancer, my tits are going and I never have to worry about this for the rest of my life. But if I don’t…
Will the NHS pay for preventative surgery, at my age, when I haven’t had kids yet, in the hope it saves them money in the future? Will they also cover reconstruction? After a mastectomy, you don’t end up with your pre-pubescent chest. In the UK, nipple preservation is in its infancy and it’s a postcode (zipcode) lottery as to whether they’ll be able to save the nipple or not, but the chest itself becomes flatter than it’s ever been (even men have some stuff in their pecs) and they have to remove all the nerves, so there’s no feeling. It’s like getting leprosy in your tits. Breastfeeding will be out of the question. Is the certainty of boob leprosy and flat chestedness better than the uncertainty of never knowing if your next routine mammogram throws up: “Hey, it grew straight after your last one and you never noticed. It’s 3 years later so… You’re going to die. Haha you got cancer’d.”
Despite the fact that I was looking forward to breastfeeding my baby (haha that was SARCASM BITCHES) I am grateful right now for one thing: Thank God I’m not still pregnant. I would have been due at the very end of next month, so I would have been very uneasy about having to undergo cancer treatment with a sproglet inside me. Add to that, the whole, first-time-motherhood + bipolar disorder + PTSD…. + (drumroll)….CANCER. Yeah, like I wouldn’t have had enough on my plate anyway.
Maybe it’s a good job my body failed to cope with remaining pregnant. I have been wondering for weeks how I would look right now at seven or eight months pregnant, whether I’d feel the baby kicking yet, would I have wanted to know if it was a boy or girl. This has effectively nixed that line of reasoning.
The baby wouldn’t have got the best care in the universe if I and my husband were preoccupied with this cancer nonsense. That’s a dealbreaker. My baby, when I have it (however I have it, whether it’s adopted, kidnapped, surrogated, hatched from an egg or natural) is getting every fucking thing it’s tiny heart could desire. It’s going to be so spoilt. Everything I never had. Including the unconditional love and attention and energy of caring parents. If it can’t have that, I’m not bringing it into the world.
Bipolar disorder is still worse. I don’t actually care if that offends you. I’m staring down the barrel of both of them right now.
I finally saw the rest of Deadpool today and discovered the total unbelievable irony that THIS was the film that caused me to discover this lump.
If I turn into a superhero, I’m coming for YOU.*
*There’s a 94% chance that 106% of people will agree this post makes little to no sense, according to a survey by nobody ever. Did I mention I stopped my bipolar meds about 2 months ago? It was all going so well…
The airwaves may go quiet again as I find out what the fuck my right tit thinks it’s doing. It’s a bit hard to keep on top of everything at the moment.