I’ve thought and written a lot about what I went through and how it made me feel. I mainly focussed all my energies on thoughts of getting cancer too young, the unfairness of it all interspersed with thoughts of-thank god I’m alive.
I’ve always been grateful to the doctors that saved my life, but I never thought about it properly really, you just kind of take it all for granted. It’s their job after all. But a lot of it (it being a cancer diagnosis), is a series of events that go in your favour; a few good hands of poker, a bit like life really.
With doctors overworked and stretched to the limit, it’s no wonder they miss things. I was lucky. Many are less fortunate. I know this because I’ve been talking to people with cancer for 2.5 years. But this is about what happened to me… Me-the lucky one.
It’s funny really. Every person I saw along the way all said to me “I don’t think it’s cancer.” And yet everybody went above and beyond to go that extra mile. They filled in extra paperwork, they overstretched their budgets, just to make sure I was ok.
At 33 with a lump in my breast and an itchy nipple (a cancer sign by the way, although not regularly documented), many GPs would have turned me away. Not mine. She referred me on the spot. She was a GP, not a breast cancer expert. It’s hard for GPs right? Imagine working somewhere having to have in depth knowledge about every department in your company? The mind boggles how they do it. But thank you for taking me seriously and believing in me. Thank you for caring. Thank you for saving my life.
Two weeks later I saw a Consultant. Her name was Caroline. She felt the lump in my breast. “It’s nothing to worry about” she said. But she sent me to have a mammogram and ultrasound scan “just in case.” She said. She wasn’t worried. She was an expert in her field and adamant I had a cyst of some sort. She could have sent me home. Maybe I’d have just left the lump and died? Breast cancer in young women is so aggressive and becomes out of control very quickly.
Thank you for sending me to the radiographer for testing just in case. Later you’d go on to remove my breast tissue and 30 lymph nodes. Carefully removing cancer and giving me clear margins. Thank you for caring. Thank you for saving my life.
To the amazing radiographer. You didn’t see the cancer on the ultrasound at first or on the mammogram. But something made you scan me again that day. You saw something the 2nd time. Your face dropped. The room went quiet. I knew. We all knew.
You took 3 biopsies. I wonder what would have happened if you’d not checked me over a second time. I am forever indebted to you because you were extra vigilant that day. Thank you for taking your time, thank you for technically finding my cancer first. Thank you for saving my life.
And to my oncology team at the Royal Marsden. To the nurses and oncologists that all looked after me and gave me the best care anyone could wish for. Thank you for helping to put me back together again (especially emotionally the hardest part of all).
I know people don’t always receive good care but I wanted you to know that good care does exist today under the NHS. I know because I experienced it for nearly 2 years. I’m still seeing doctors now and nobody has ever once let me down.
In a unlucky and awful situation as it turned out, I’ve been the luckiest girl in the world…