This week’s guest blog is written by Deirdre, our Pharmacist in our Mahon Point store. We are very grateful to her for sharing her very personal experience to help raise awareness and encourage women to get checked.
In February 2018 I was called for my first mammogram from Breast Check. When I arrived, the nurse told me not to worry if I got called back for a second mammogram as often times it is difficult to read the first scan. I got a call and went back for a second mammogram in April. I wasn’t at all worried as they had said it is often time difficult to read the first scan. I nearly dropped to the floor when I was told that there was a shadow on the right breast that they were concerned about.
After doing the second mammogram I was then told I was going to have an ultrasound straightaway. All staff and consultants looking very worried. After the ultrasound I was told I was going to have a biopsy. While in the waiting room, buckets of tears started streaming down and I became embarrassed to be crying in front of others in the waiting room. There were at least twelve other people waiting and while I was on my own, some people had brought someone with them so they weren’t alone.
The biopsy was an awful experience but when it was done and over, my surgeon brought me into the consultation room. He told me I would have to come back in a week to find out the results. I told him that it would have to be the morning as I had to work in the afternoon. He and the nurse took one of my hands each and told me that I wouldn’t be able to go to work after I heard what he had to say. I knew right then and there that I wasn’t going to be told it’s only a cyst. I felt so stupid as a Pharmacist not realizing something was wrong but he assured me that he was not able to feel anything manually either. I’m not sure how I did it as its all a blur but I managed to get back in the car and drive home.
The biopsy results came back and it was an extremely aggressive cancer. I had to have a lumpectomy, 3 months of chemotherapy and a month of radiotherapy. I had terrible days during the chemo where I couldn’t even stand up without help and I had good days where I could play golf! My friends fed me on the bad days and smiled with me on the good days. I lost my hair which was extremely traumatic, especially the loss of my eyelashes. I thought I looked like an alien.
The radiotherapy was hard, exhausting and an overall dark time. Being that it was the winter months, it didn’t help to lighten the atmosphere. All of it affected me emotionally during that time.
All of the consultants advised not returning to work until March but I came back in January. I felt it was partly for sanity and partly for financial reasons as I’d just bought a new house and there were bills to be paid. I think I am back to nearly 100% health.
The message from this story is get that mammogram! Don’t put it off because it could save your life. A few difficult months is so much better than not having any more months. If you think something is wrong, talk to your Pharmacist or visit your GP.