“WHAT are they? …and why do I suddenly want chicken?”
Oh crap. These were the immortal words that froze my champagned New Year’s self after I’d drunkenly kicked off my shoes and flung out my fillets. Reaching into my bra I had unthinkingly yanked out the uplifting chickeny wonders and dropped the boob boosters with a resounding slap onto the coffee table. And there they sat, a pair of rubbery secrets unashamedly glaring at us both. How he explained my ample chest and how it had become such, I fear he didn’t question, passing it off as some Christmas miracle. And as it was New Year’s Eve I was merry in a fog of bubbles and dancing, it didn’t cross my mind to try and preserve the magic. I just whipped them out. I looked at him, a little deflated (literally) and he laughed. I laughed. He wasn’t bothered; he was hungry and wanted chicken. I wasn’t embarrassed, it was practicality, I didn’t fill my dress so I added a bit of oomph. I spent my teenage years constantly worried about the size of my bee stings and I can assure you that positive thinking and “I must, I must, I must increase my bust” mantra does naff all. Now, at the grand old age of 27, I couldn’t give a sod if I’ve been a bit short changed in the boob region and if a top or dress has a bit of a saggy chest hammock, then a bra or fillet will sort that out. Was this epiphany a mature realisation? Have I become empowered, learnt to love myself and not care about such trivialities? Course not. I found a lump.
I don’t know how I found it but I did. A hard pea of a lump sat under the skin. So I did what we all (ahem) would do. I ignored it. Probably for about 6 months, maybe more, I pretended it wasn’t there because it would disappear of its own accord. Except the bloody thing didn’t. So I told my mum who packed me off to the doctors (who shouted because I should have been there 6 months ago) and once I was sufficiently frightened, she packed me off to the breast clinic. One big needle, a lot of tears and a relieved call later I was told I had a blocked milk duct. Thank Christ for that. The doctor will be in touch to drain it they told me. He wasn’t and that was a-ok with me. It could just sit there and when it was ready it would disappear.
Two years later it hadn’t disappeared, it had got bigger. Changed shape too. The unwelcome little invader had morphed from a frozen pea to a broad bean and I didn’t like it. I wasn’t going to leave it another 6 months; I needed to go to the doctor’s about the lump in my boob and the fear in my stomach. Off I went to the breast clinic where I had another ultrasound and heard the doctor say, “Ooh that’s definitely not a blocked milk duct”. *cue hysteria* I had kittens, they deciphered my high pitched panic and reassured me as well as they could that it didn’t look sinister. I had a biopsy but they were pretty sure it was a fibroadenoma, a benign (brace yourself) tumour, so they gave me a leaflet about it. A week later it was confirmed, I had a ‘breast mouse’. A non-cancerous blob of tissue that had joined forces with other blobs of tissue and was quite happy just sitting there. It might go, it might not, but it was fine. So there it stayed.
Four years later I lost some weight, enough weight to shrink my bee stings to mosquito bites which meant my lump was nearer to the skin. I was more aware of it than I had been for the past 6 years so planned to nip down to the GP, get the nurse to pop it out in between her verruca freezing and injection giving, et voila! I’d be lump free therefore eliminating the risk of it being mistaken for my actual boob. Off I skipped to the doctor and expected to skip off just as quickly, nurse de-lumping appointment in hand. Instead I was fast tracked to the breast clinic. Again. Another ultrasound, another biopsy but this time no “it looks fine”. They were concerned. Shit. I hadn’t signed up for this, I just wanted the little bleeder removing, I hadn’t agreed to concerned consultants and whispers behind the curtain. It was hard, immovable and had got bigger. It was now 12mm and the surrounding tissue was dense, too dense. All of these things? Not too good. I was 25, I was young, too young for the word I’m skirting around. Nope, not necessarily and if I had got the big C, my age would be against me. Cells work quickly when you’re young, the good ones AND the bastard bad ones. So if it was sinister, we needed to get a wiggle on to stop it in its tracks.
The biopsy was inconclusive. The tissue had been too dense for them to be 100% certain that they’d actually managed to get a sample from the lump itself. They reviewed my case; they called me at home and told me they wanted to operate as soon as possible. Sorry, what? Erm, I’m in my final year at uni, I’m embroidering vintage fabrics, my biggest concern is that I’ve run out of thread, I’ve no room for any of this “we can’t remove it via keyhole in case further surgery is required” malarkey. Except I had to.
I went into hospital (make up and nail varnish-less, Christ, kick a girl when she’s down…) and decided that no, I wasn’t happy about this operation business. It wasn’t helped by the surgeon’s “I don’t know how long it will take, it depends how bad it is when I get in there” surmise. Operation? General anaesthetic? Consent forms saying I won’t be miffed if my nipple falls off? Get stuffed. I was going to get off that bed, push past matey in his scrubs, and then I just had to get pa-
When I woke up I was groggy, lump free and desperate to get outta there. They wouldn’t let me leave until I’d eaten. Bring me the toast and the marmalade! My oxygen levels were up, I’d eaten and I’d be back in a week for my results. I went home and rang the hospital every day, despite being told repeatedly that the results normally take two weeks and that I was lucky to be getting them in a week, when I came to see the consultant. Pah! I needed to know there and then. I needed to know NOW. After the longest week in the history of the world ever, it was results day. I sat in a waiting room full of other frightened ladies, I was the youngest there and when I saw the consultant he told me straight away, I was fine.
I burst into tears. I was fine. How could I be fine? I’d got myself braced for the worst, I’d done enough Google research I was virtually qualified and I was fine? I left the hospital in a state of sobbing disbelief (six lumpy years does that to a girl). I was lucky. The luckiest girl in the world and from what the consultant said, it had been fifty fifty. It could have gone either way and who knows where or even if I’d be sat writing this right now if the story had ended differently. It was a shock to the system, a bloody big booby wakeup call and a reminder to always Coppafeel, whatever age you are. As October nears and we’re encouraged to be tickled pink and all that jazz, I’d point anyone in the direction of their doctor if they’ve got even a spec of concern. I’ve got a spec of a chest but I don’t care. They’re a healthy pair and that’s all I can ask for, the fillets do the rest.