Sunday, 10 August 2014

Best Breast Forward

Melons from MotherEarthNews
Well, darlings, the dear ole melons having arrived at the status of much beloved antiques, I was offered the statutory breast test to which all women over 50 are entitled in the UK. I wasn't quite sure what to expect so I thought I would write up what this entails for others who might be wondering.

(I have lost friends to cancer myself; this is just a light-hearted account of what happens in a breast test where nothing is likely to go wrong. So only Read More if you are not too bothered, LOL. More serious account of the breast test from NHS website here.)

First off, I was asked to pop down to the breast clinic. (This clinic is not in the horspital, and that already makes you feel better.) I was in and out within about half an hour, which is all to the good. Bra off in the changing rooms, pop your top on over the goods on display and barely time to sit down in a chair before I was whisked off to the mammogram machine. (They advise you beforehand to wear a top and skirt/trousers rather than a dress.)

The mammogram was uncomfortable but not really painful. They squash your boobs one at a time between plates, and you have to grip onto a side of the machine and stand in close so they get a good layer of breast to photograph. But it really does not take long and then you are off - free! and can carry on with whatever you were doing that day.

So, if you are lucky then that is it for another four years. However, they did carefully warn me that many women who are first timer mammograms are called back, simply because they have no previous pix with which to compare your weird and wonderful jugs. When I got the letter saying come back, therefore, I just went: "Oh rats." And I said: "Double rats," (or words to that effect) when I read the letter more carefully and found out I must set aside the whole morning, or afternoon, for the further extensive tests which would be undertaken.

Queen Victoria wears a little black outfit,
from The Guardian
When I showed up at the clinic, there were women who said they had not slept since receiving their letter. Maybe they had other reasons for worrying about the big C.

Audrey Hepburn shows she can take things seriously,
from FabAudrey
Personally I am like, Que Sera Sera, and I am not going to start suggesting chic black outfits to my friends until I know whether these will be required for my funeral or a jolly good cocktail party to celebrate not having to have a funeral. (Any excuse will do! Bottoms up! - wink.)

Why was I confident, even after I had to have a number of further tests? Well, I added up the factors which make you more or less prone to breast cancer and I was always on the less side of the equation, so I figured I would be silly to start freaking out. Eg: 

Nice box, nasty side effects LOL, 
image from cigarettespedia
  • I gave up the Sullivan and Powell filterless Sub Rosa cigarettes a long long time ago.  
  • Being a working MILF ... uh, I mean mum! I mean parent, a working parent/carer, I rarely get the chance these days to go out and get off my trolley on booze.  
  • I live off Piglet's leftovers so my diet is largely made up of green foodstuffs packed with chlorophyll, which I cook to be crunchy not boiled out of every ounce of goodness.
Further tests you have involve initially a manual feel by a thoroughly professional doctor. Then they do an ultrasound, and you can lie there on the bed watching the pictures of your boob, not that these mean anything to me personally. (As you know, I am a Dr. but not that kind, I will just look at your leg and say: "Lovely, darling!" <snerk>.)

So, there is quite a bit of waiting around at this second set of tests. You also have to wear a fetching (not!) cape while you swan about between tests, carrying your bra and top in a basket with you. Other women sat biting their fingernails and showing the whites of their eyes but I carried on reading Auerbach's Mimesis cuz I knew there would be no WiFi so no chance to cruise smut unfortunately. (Which I do solely in order to review it on my Feminist Erotica blog of course! how I suffer, gosh, the things I have to paw through ... I mean pore through <snerk>.)

When I had had the all too professional feel, and they had rolled the boob around on the ultrasound checking out the lump they had found, they said they could not be absolutely sure it was nothing. They asked if it would be OK to do a biopsy. They did this in a rather Take-It-Or-Leave-It manner, but after all I am a MILF and it was a freebie, so I was like: "Sure! I'll have one of those."

From FreeFoto
LOL, the biopsy is painful, but I figured the reassurance that my lump really was just congealed cream cake as opposed to something alarming, would be worth the discomfort.

For the biopsy they give you a small amount of anaesthetic, similar to that at the dentist's. They make a tiny incision in your boob, and insert a large bore needle through that into your lump to get a tissue sample. There is a thing which they press and it makes quite a startling sound. They do this two or three times.You can watch it on the ultrasound, thinking: 'How interesting!' and then when you realise it is your actual boob which is being pierced by the needle, 'Acksherly, I feel a bit sick, and think I will not look any more.' LOL. The nurse held my arm in a reassuring manner all through and they talked me through every stage before I had to endure it.

From Fotosearch
Afterwards, they warned me not to do anything strenuous for a day or two. "What about the washing up?" I enquired. "Oh no! no washing up for six months," they said quickly.

"Milk it," the breast care nurse advised as I left, although to be fair to her it was only when I burst out laughing that she realised what she'd said.

TBH, I felt a bit sorry for myself, what with the sore boob and even though I knew there was very little chance of a bad outcome to the tests. So I made the Fella come and take me out for brunch and then I went home and went to bed, where I fell asleep watching LoTR3 on my flash new laptop.

I did not feel much like larking about having a larf on the writers' chat board until I was quite sure that I would not have to change my signature from: Just like one of the lads, with tits, to with tit. (I did remark to one of my particular friends that I thought I could probably pick up more men with one boob than many women could with two - wink.)  I assured everyone I was confident it would all be fine, however I did wonder if I would have to part with one of my boobs, which I am very attached to having grown them myself. My sister-in-law said would they not cut out the lump anyway, even if it was congealed cream cake, 'n I was like: "Whaaaaat?!!! No way. I might have to go down two or three cup sizes if they did that."

I was incredibly impressed that the breast care nurse took the trouble to phone me on Saturday morning, having tried but not managed to get through the previous day. She let me know that my results had come through fine so there would be no need for me to go back and chat to the team again. It was really kind, since as I say, I realise there are many women who are worrying a great deal and even for me, it was a relief to tick that one off the list and and get on with enjoying the weekend.

The nurse explained that my lump was just a something-ty something, ie a fatty deposit. I said: "I ate too many cream cakes," and she said very seriously: "No, that isn't how it works." I laughed and said: "No, no, I know that really. You can never have too many cream cakes," so she laughed too then and said: "Not in my opinion!"

And I think after all that, I shall go out and buy myself  a box of macaroons to hide at the back of the fridge and snorf up when Piglet is not around. Or, in fact, I am so pleased that I will not have to go for a series of excruciating and tiring operations and medical procedures, that I might even let her have one or two.

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