This might seem like a weird blog post to write about but if it helps one person pick up the phone and call the doctor when they find a lump in their breast (or anywhere) then it’s worth a shot.
When it comes to health, there can be so many things we neglect doing to look after ourselves. You can tell yourself that it’s fine, it’s nothing to worry about, it will go away, you can Google and read every article until you find something that tells you that your lump is fine.. but the fact is you don’t really know what it is until a medical professional has looked at it.
So here we are…
As you may know, I had a baby at the end of November last year (read my labour story here!). I have been breastfeeding so when I felt a lump in my boob when my baby was around 6 weeks I initially thought it was mastitis – which can occur when you get a blocked milk duct. This can be painful and become infected. When I first found my lump, I thought that’s what it was and tried to massage it out in the shower and was expecting it to become painful. But it never became painful and I started to get worried. It was a hard, pea-sized lump.
At my 8-week postpartum appointment, I mentioned it to my GP and she examined it and then said that she was going to refer me to the breast clinic. She also said that there are a lot of changes in the breasts during pregnancy and after having a baby that it’s probably nothing, but wanted to refer me anyway as I am over 30.
A couple of hours later, I got a phone call from the breast clinic to let me know I was being referred and would get an appointment for some time in the next two weeks. A couple of days later, I got the letter through the post. It was for the following Friday.
So 10 days from when I had my doctors appointment.
The letter said you had to go alone and you had to call if you needed to bring someone to get approval. I called to tell them I needed to bring my baby with me. At first, they asked if I could leave him with someone but I explained I was breastfeeding and he was only 9 weeks old and they put a note on my file about it.
I hate this about covid, it’s so much harder after birth than before birth with all the restrictions. I had to take Leo alone which I was stressing about as I’ve never driven with him on my own. I actually hadn’t driven since I had my sweep two days before was born. My partner usually drives and I sit in the back with Leo to comfort him when he cries.
Then I had the worry about him crying at the appointments or when waiting. Then the worry about if he needed feeding and changing. It would have been so much less stress if my partner could have come! Not to mention that there are no child and parent parking bays in the hospital car park, so I was anxious about not being able to get him in and out of the car.
Anyway, back to my boobs. That’s what you are all here for, right?
So, the day came around and luckily Leo was still asleep in the morning so I was able to shower and get dressed before he woke. Naturally, he filled his nappy right before we set off and it went up his back so had to change his clothes. We set off a bit early and I got there with 15 minutes until my appointment. I also managed to get an end space in the car park so I could fully open the door to get him in and out. He was asleep so I sat in the back seat for a bit then got his pushchair sorted and went in. It was quite scary going into the cancer centre.
It really doesn’t matter how many times you tell yourself it’s probably nothing. There’s still that niggle in the back of your head. And going into a building that says CANCER CENTRE above the door does not help this feeling.
When I got there, I had to sanitise my hands and put on a hospital mask, instead of my own. I was waiting for about 10 minutes before I got called in.
There was a doctor and a nurse, the nurse rocked Leo in his pram as he was a bit unsettled while the doctor examined me. They were both really nice and Leo was a great distraction and talking point. The doctor said it was probably a cyst, but they would do an ultrasound just to make sure.
I was then lead to another waiting room. There was a young girl also waiting and an old lady. The old lady was sweet and was asking about Leo. She was in her 90s and was saying how she had to rely on her neighbour to bring her and do her shopping. It made me a bit sad and I hope that having Leo there for her to coo over brought a tiny bit of joy to her day as I’m sure being there at that age must be terrifying. I hope she got the all-clear.
Anyway, it felt like I was waiting for a while. Maybe for an hour? I had to feed Leo, then he filled his nappy so had to change him on the floor. I wanted to feed him again but I was now alone in the waiting room and worried I’d get called as soon as he latched. I got called in about 10 minutes later and he was asleep so I was able to unlatch him and put him in his pram. Thankfully he slept through the ultrasound.
The ultrasound showed I had a cyst filled with milk, called a galactocele. Absolutely nothing to worry about. She asked me to wait in the waiting room again and said she needed to show the consultant to make sure he agreed with her. She came to see me about 10 minutes later and said the consultant did agree and that it should go away after I’ve finished breastfeeding and I should go back if it does, or if it gets bigger.
It felt so good to get the all-clear after all the worrying I was doing. I was in and out in about an hour and a half. I was also glad I was able to find out the same day and didn’t have to wait for any results.
It felt like a really efficient service from our NHS. I was kind of dreading it because of how underfunded the NHS is and I had some bad experiences in my care during and after my pregnancy, but I can’t fault this at all.
Apart from the hospital not having parent and child parking bays. That is frustrating.