BCSM, BRCA1, BRCA2, Breast cancer, Breast Cancer Care UK, Breast Cancer Screening, Cancer, Genes, Genetics, Health, Mammogram, MRI, UK, Vita Magazine, Women's Health

Vita: MRI or Mammogram?

Anyone who has ever survived primary breast cancer will know the feeling of fear that lives with you every single day. That is, the fear that the disease will at some point return or metastasise, leading to incurable secondary breast cancer.


Apologies for the recycled MRI selfie, but you can never have too many selfies

For survivors like me, there is no ‘screening’ for metastasis. But what doctors can do is regularly check the breasts themselves for recurrence, with manual examinations, mammograms and MRI scans.

I, however, have been somewhat confused over the last six months about whether I’m supposed to be having MRIs or mammograms from now on.

So, in my latest post for Breast Cancer Care UK’s Vita Magazine, I talk about the national guidelines and recommendations for MRIs.

Disclaimer: This should by no means be taken as ‘advice,’ because I am not your doctor. But hopefully it’ll give people a better idea about the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s guidelines, and from there you can ask the experts.

BCSM, Breast cancer, Breast Cancer Screening, Cancer, Health, Mammogram, MRI, UK, Uncategorized, Women's Health

The MRI Results

Some happy Friday news. I got my MRI scan results, and all is good (or, at least, ‘satisfactory,’ to use the doctor-speak). Here’s what the consultant said:

This is to inform you that your recent MRI scan of your breasts performed at Wythenshawe Hospital was satisfactory and showed no sinister features. We are reassured by this.

We will see you again as planned.

What a relief. I must admit it’s terrifying that I’ll have to wait another year until I have any kind of test again, but in the cancer-survival world, no news is good news.

Argentina, BCSM, Breast cancer, Breast Cancer Awareness, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Breast Cancer Care UK, Breast Cancer Screening, Cancer, Dublin, Health, Mammogram, St Vincent's, UK, Vita Magazine, Women's Health

Vita: ‘Probably Benign’


In Buenos Aires, at a conveniently named ‘Bar,’ back before any of this ever happened

A year and a half ago, I had my very first mammogram, having just discovered the lump in my left breast while living in Buenos Aires.

Thanks to my health insurance, I had the tests and results all in the same day. Everything was fine. I didn’t have cancer, said the Argentine doctor.

I was given some printed reports and a short letter, which I read and kept, always planning to follow up with the Argentine clinic when I was eventually diagnosed with breast cancer, four months later.

But cancer is time-consuming, and it took me a year after my diagnosis to retrieve the letter and really look into its meaning. It turned out I’d been given the impression I’d got the all-clear, when in fact the medical code in the blurb actually only meant ‘Probably benign.’

Here’s what happened next…

To read the rest of this post in Breast Cancer Care UK’s Vita Magazine, click here.

BCSM, Breast cancer, Breast Cancer Screening, Cancer, Health, Mammogram, UK, Women's Health

The One-Year All-Clear

Mammogram letter

Five weeks after my mammogram and three weeks after the two weeks they said it would take for me to receive my results, this letter came through my door. FI-NA-LLY. Well it’s a good job I wasn’t panicking, isn’t it?

It’s exactly 12 months this week since I started chemo and it’s amazing the difference a year makes. I’m going for a very long-awaited month of overseas adventures now and I’m having a complete break from any kind of blogging, so for those of you who’ve rolled your eyes at the three posts I’ve sent your way this week, rest assured there’ll be no more for a while so you needn’t unsubscribe just yet.

No news is good news!

BCSM, Breast cancer, Breast Cancer Screening, Cancer, Dublin, Health, Ireland, Mammogram, UK, Uncategorized, Women's Health

My First Mammogram and a Toast to Happy Boobs

I just went for my first check-up mammogram, exactly a year and a day since my breast cancer surgery.

20130701-200704.jpgMy boobs didn’t mind the pancake-squashing machine too much and the lady who squashed them in at my new hospital in Stockport was lovely. I know a lot of women say mammograms are comparable to torture, but honestly I don’t find them bad at all – maybe it’s a boob size thing, but I’d take mammograms over needles and cannulas any day of the week.

Anyway, I’ve received a lot of sweet messages on Facebook and Twitter from friends and supporters wishing me good luck, and I just wanted to thank you for those messages and clarify that I’m actually not worried about the results of the mammogram (which should arrive in the next couple of weeks).

I know there’s always a chance of a recurrence in one of my breasts, but those chances are so low after all the chemo and radiotherapy I’ve had that it doesn’t even bear thinking about.

My Worries List is currently occupied by much more mundane concerns such as whether I’ll be able to get visas in time for my big post-cancer trip to southeast Asia and how many times it is acceptable to ask my Dad to hire a van and drive my worldly goods to whichever corner of the globe I happen to be moving to next. (On this topic, I am currently something of a nomad but will be an official London resident as of the end of September).

I know most of my fellow cancer-fighting friends spend oodles of time fretting about recurrence and tests so I don’t want to trivialise the issue at all, but firstly I check my breasts so often these days that I hope I’d detect a new lump quicker than any mammogram anyway, and secondly, the much greater risk to my health would be a metastasis to the brain or elsewhere, and that is something so completely and utterly out of my control that I do my best to purge any thoughts of it from my head the moment they enter.

I’m still waiting to hear about having a possible MRI breast scan in the next few weeks, but apart from that, my next appointment is with my surgeon in six months’ time, and then with the oncologist six months after that. Although I’ve had a lot of hospital visits in the last few weeks while I’ve been transferring from private health to the NHS, I’m now looking forward to fewer appointments in favour of making the most of my very fortunate life!

imageI’m utterly fried from a crack-of-dawn flight from Dublin to Manchester this morning, so I’ll leave you with this pic of me and my boobs enjoying a delicious pre-mammogram cocktail (Gin and Earl Grey Martini – highly recommended) last night. The three of us are toasting our triumphant survival of the last 12 months and, more importantly, a long and happy future together. Cheers to that!

BRCA1, BRCA2, Breast cancer, Breast Cancer Screening, Cancer, Genes, Genetics, Health, Mammogram, Mastectomy, Ovarian Cancer, UK, Women's Health

Vita: Angelina’s Genes Deciphered

Angelina Jolie sparked a lot of controversy earlier this month when she revealed her decision to have both her breasts removed following a BRCA+ diagnosis.

“Why did she have to tell the world?” people asked.
“Did she just do it for publicity?”
“Why didn’t she get her ovaries removed as well?”

Unfortunately, many people judged and criticised Jolie without really understanding what her diagnosis meant and what her options were.

The aim of this blog is not to add to the discussion about whether or not she made the right choice (I fully support her decision and also believe she was right to tell the world, before a journalist did). Instead, I want to explain a little about my experience of BRCA genetic testing here in the UK, and what a BRCA+ diagnosis means.

To continue reading this blog in Breast Cancer Care UK’s Vita magazine, follow the link below:

Breast cancer, Breast Cancer Awareness, Breast Cancer Screening, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Hair loss, Hair regrowth, Health, Mammogram, Radiotherapy, St Vincent's, UK§, Women's Health

Radiotherapy: Week Five

So, tomorrow marks exactly one year to the day I found a lump in my left breast: Saturday, 4th February, 2012. For those of you who’ve only recently started reading this blog, I’ll go back to the beginning.

I was living in Buenos Aires this time last year when I went to northeast Brazil on a surfing holiday. It was just after I checked into the beautiful beachside guesthouse that I lay down on the bed and, somehow (I’m still not sure how), I discovered the lump.

Now, I’m aware that for anyone who has never found a lump, it may be difficult to imagine what one looks like, so I thought for the first time I would show you a couple of photos I took just before my surgery last June. (Please excuse the blurry, red face – I had probably been crying as I bid goodbye to my boob in its original state.)


If you look closely, you should be able to make out the bump in the skin on the right of the photo. It is bruised because I’d had the core biopsy a week or so earlier (where the giant needle is inserted into the tumour to take a sample). But, as you can see, it wasn’t like a massive bump sticking out of the breast, nor was it a different colour from the rest of my body, nor did it have any other outwardly visible characteristics.


I thought it might be helpful for people to see that my cancer didn’t come with a glaring neon pink sign that said “Hey, here I am – a big fat tumour just waiting to kill you!” No, it was much more subtle. Cancer is sneaky and sly. It often hides itself away while it quietly spreads around your body and waits for you to notice the more glaringly obvious symptoms.

That said, breast cancer comes in many shapes and forms. The symptoms can be anything including a lump, a dry patch, discharge from the breast, discolouration, swelling, or any change in size or shape. And it’s important to feel around the whole area – armpits included – because the cancer might not be in the main protruding part of the boob.

So that’s what happened exactly a year ago tomorrow. I had cancer and I didn’t even know it. I went to the hospital straight away for tests and was told by the Argentine doctors that it was a benign tumour (I.e. not cancerous). After the misdiagnosis, I continued living my life as normal until June 22nd, when I finally got the correct diagnosis in Ireland. I’m forever thankful to my then-boyfriend and my mum, for being the two people who insisted I get a second opinion. Without that, who knows what would have happened?

Fast forward to 2013 and radiotherapy continues to go well: 23 down, 10 to go. I think half the people at work don’t even realise I’m going out for radiotherapy sessions every day, so at least I appear normal.

That said, as you can see below, the hair growth is still painfully slow. (FYI, today’s eyebrows are brought to you with a normal eyeliner pencil, because I came back to Huddersfield for the weekend and forgot my eyebrow make-up. Someone get me a stylist, please!)


I’m currently trying to pluck up the courage to stop wearing my wig to work. There may be an opportunity to ‘break people in’ at a fancy dress party on Friday. The theme is 90s. I was thinking of copying a fellow breast cancer blogger, Dee, and going as a 90s-look Sinead O’Connor. But I don’t think it really fits in with what the rest of the partygoers are planning to wear. Also, it’s slightly absurd to think of going to a fancy dress party as Sinead O’Connor, just to feel brave enough to show my bald head, when everyone knows I’m bald underneath the wigs anyway! So maybe another week and I’ll do it. Or maybe a bit of alcohol is needed for Dutch courage? Maybe a few shots of tequila before work? (Actually that might not be the worst idea I’ve ever had – the drunkenness might deflect away from the baldness…)

Apart from that, there’s no real radiotherapy news. I am still quite sleepy but otherwise managing to do everything as normal, and getting 9 hours of sleep every night. (Previously unheard of in my life – another silver lining to having cancer.)

Being back at my parents’ house after a month is a bit weird. The drive home from Manchester airport on Friday night was the same drive we did home from the hospital after every chemotherapy session, and going over the Yorkshire moors I felt a slight pang of chemo-familiarity-associated sickness. Then the same again when I put a glass of water on my bedside table and got a flashback of putting a banana next to my bedside table so that I could wake up at 6am and eat it with my chemo steroids. Yuck. It’s only been two months, but these chemo flashbacks are likely to stay with me for a long time. Fortunately, it hasn’t completely coloured my time back at home.

Well, that’s it for today. This time last year I had cancer. Now I don’t. Thank goodness I found that lump.

BRCA2, Breast cancer, Breast Cancer Screening, Cancer, Food, Genes, Genetics, Health, Humor, Humour, Mammogram, Mastectomy, Toilet humour, Women's Health

The Five-Month Check-Up

Barely a day goes by without a trip to the hospital. The occasion yesterday was my five-month check up after my surgery.

“Five months?!” I hear you ask. Yes, really, it’s been five months since diagnosis, five months I’ve been sitting on my bum getting fat and being frequently stabbed by needles while the seasons have changed and you’ve gone from wearing your summer frocks to winter woolies (or vice versa, for those in the Southern Hemisphere.)

To offset the unpleasantness of a trip to the Christie Clinic (lovely though it is), we decided to treat ourselves to a three-course lunch at Jamie’s Italian in Manchester, which opened in February. I thought I’d take some of you (namely Fe, Linz and one or two others) up on the suggestion of food-blogging, since writing about my life online has now become second nature and replaced my 20-year habit of writing a private diary, so you can read the first post of my fledgling food blog here.

For those of you who can’t be bothered to click the above link, or simply don’t have enough time in your day, I hope you will instead enjoy these pictures of a burger and – the pièce de résistance – the Thomas Crapper loo.

I digress…

I thought the check-up was just to see if my boob scar was in order, but in fact it was also a breast cancer check – to see if any new lumps had emerged. They haven’t, thank God, but it turns out I have to have these appointments every four months for the first couple of years and then have checks (probably mammograms) at least once a year for the next 17 years until I actually hit the age where they start screening women routinely – 47. (And after that, presumably more of the same…)

This really made it hit home just how much cancer is going to be with me for the rest of my life. Talking to the surgeon and hearing about how important it is to keep checking whether the cancer has come back just reinforced how rare it is to have breast cancer at my age and how it could return at any time. I’ve gone from never going to hospital up to the age of 29, to making it practically a second home. Hey ho…

My gene test result is due any day now and will determine whether or not I have a bilateral mastectomy, so Mum and I saw the consultation as an opportunity to grill the surgeon, who I will most likely choose to perform my operation in the event that I need one.

He explained that muscle would be taken from my back in order to reconstruct my breasts after they are lopped off.

“But do I even have enough muscle in my back for that?” I asked, imagining two great chunks missing from my shoulder area…

“It’s the biggest muscle in your body,” he said. “But we would use implants as well.”

Ahh, I thought, thank God for that! They would also normally take fat from my stomach, he said, but (un?)fortunately, even after putting on 3kg, I’m pretty sure I’m not fat enough to produce a pair of 32Ds from my tummy flab.

“Are you managing to eat ok?” asked the surgeon.

“Oh yes,” I said, “In fact, I’ve put on weight.”

(I didn’t feel the need to tell him I’d just wolfed down an enormous cheese-and-red-meat-based lunch at Jamie’s.)

Meanwhile, I’m fast becoming a local celebrity, with the Huddersfield Examiner contacting me yesterday for an interview. I’m not sure exactly how they found my blog with just one obscure mention of a nightmare taxi ride from Huddersfield to Manchester, but nevertheless I shall endeavour to give them some kind of exclusive. I am as yet undecided as to whether to wear hot pants for the photo shoot, like I did last time I appeared in the Examiner, in 2004 (see link).

Happy weekend!

Breast cancer, Breast Cancer Awareness, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Breast Cancer Screening, Cancer, Health, Humor, Humour, Mammogram, Ultrasound, Uncategorized

A New Home for My Blog

My blog has a new home on the Huffington Post UK website. You can read it by clicking on this link, or click here: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/laura-price/breast-cancer-20s_b_1951530.html

Here’s a preview:

For those of you who didn’t read the WordPress blog from the beginning, the new HuffPost blog is a good place to start as I go right back to the day I was diagnosed.

For those of you who have read the original blog from the start, please don’t dismiss the new one as there’s loads of original material and I’ve told the story differently. It might be a bit samey initially, but once I get up to the present day, both blogs will be aligned.

I need all the support I can get, so please click the button to become a Fan, follow me on Twitter @bigscaryCword and comment as much as you like on any of the posts! The more, the merrier!

Thank you all so much for your continuing love and support,


Breast cancer, Breast Cancer Awareness, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Breast Cancer Screening, Cancer, Coppafeel!, Male Breast Cancer, Mammogram, Ultrasound

Breast Cancer in Your Face

Breast cancer has never been so ‘in your face’. I know we notice things more when they become relevant to us, and I know I’m watching more daytime TV since I’ve been off sick, but I have honestly never seen so many breast cancer awareness campaigns before, and that’s a good thing. October is breast cancer awareness month all over the world, just in case it had escaped you.

In the UK, there’s the controversial Coppafeel! campaign commissioned by Cosmopolitan magazine involving Spice Girl Mel B and her husband Stephen Belafonte, with this image of him fondling her naked breasts. Whether you like it or not, the campaign achieves what it sets out to do. I personally can see why it offends some people, but I am of the opinion that, where breast cancer is concerned, any publicity is good publicity and we need to be in your face about the fact that you actually have to CHECK YOUR BREASTS – it’s not enough just to raise money for charity or wear a pink ribbon, as great as those things are. (Sorry for the shouty capitals, but this is a message that can’t be stressed enough.)

What do you think of the Coppafeel! campaign? Is it too much? Over-sexualised? The defense of Cosmo’s editor was that it would resonate more with women in their 20s – the magazine’s target audience – and I think she’s right. Older women are given regular mammograms and MRI screening but women in their 20s and 30s don’t get that, so it’s important that we learn about self-checking. Though, as one of my readers pointed out, sometimes there will be no symptoms of breast cancer and a tumour will only be detected by screening. Since youngsters don’t get screened automatically, if you have a family history of breast cancer, you could go to your GP and ask for advice.

Lots of shops and brands are selling pink-themed products and donating some of the proceeds to breast cancer charities. Cancer Research UK goes a step further and donates 100% of the proceeds from the products in this link, so do check it out if you’re in the UK, or Google your local equivalent. I am ordering the pink heart-themed reusable coffee mug – what better way to be kind to the environment whilst drinking tea and supporting cancer research?!

Also in the UK, the soap opera Coronation Street is running a storyline about Maria Connor, a girl around my age who discovered a lump in her breast. She puts off going to the GP for a while because she is scared of what she might find. She eventually confides in a friend and has an ultrasound, followed by a core biopsy, where something I can only describe as a giant needle-gun is inserted into the breast under local anaesthetic to take a tissue sample for testing (this is what I had in Ireland). I have missed a couple of episodes, but I believe Maria’s lump was found to be benign, i.e. not cancerous. Nevertheless, I think it’s great that Coronation Street ran the story line. They highlighted the importance of getting yourself checked out, while also showing that in most cases, breast lumps turn out to be non-cancerous.

I’ve heard about so many surveys this month where women said they found a lump and didn’t go to the doctor because they were scared. I also know people who have ignored symptoms for other types of cancer and have ended up with incurable diseases by the time they got it checked out. This is simply not acceptable in this day and age, when there is so much information out there about all types of cancer. It never even occurred to me to ignore my lump. What good can ignoring it possibly do? As with the case of my gene test, I knew that knowledge was power and the only way to get that knowledge was to go to the doctor.

Maria’s story made me think back to when I first found my lump. It was February this year and I was on holiday in Brazil. I had just arrived at the surfing resort of Itacaré and was on my own in the hotel room. Don’t ask me why I was fondling my own breasts – I wasn’t actively checking for lumps, but I guess sometimes I have a little feel – don’t we all?! My first thought was to go to the doctor. I genuinely didn’t think “this is cancer”. I knew that it was more likely that the lump was some sort of cyst, and I honestly don’t remember being worried – even with my family history. I knew that the lump couldn’t have been there long. I almost went to the public hospital at the beach resort, but when I ended up going there anyway with food poisoning and saw the flies swarming around everywhere, I decided it would be better to wait a few days until I got back to Buenos Aires, where I was living at the time. Plus which, I knew they would have to do tests and I would only be in Brazil for a week anyway.

I wasn’t familiar with the way the health system worked in Argentina – I didn’t have a personal GP like in England. There, you have to go to specialists for each particular medical problem, which in this case, I was told, was a gynaecologist. I set about finding a gynaecologist from my company’s health insurance directory, but after calling 10 of them and being told none of them could give me an appointment until March (it was the beginning of February), tears sprung to my eyes at work. I was going away on holiday again a few days later (there are lots of public holidays in February in Argentina!) and I needed an appointment as soon as possible.

Fortunately, a good friend, who was familiar with the health system in Argentina, told me that I could go to the emergency room of one of the private hospitals, so that I did. I didn’t even know how to say ‘lump’ in Spanish (it’s not often used in business talk!), so I’m thankful I had a friend. The doctor was a grey-haired old Argentine man, but I wasn’t bothered. He told me to strip off my top half and had a feel around my boobs on the bed in his consulting room. He then sent me for an ultrasound, where another grey-haired male doctor spread some liquid on my chest and moved an ultrasound sensor around both breasts. I could see the lump on the computer screen and he zoomed in and printed off the pictures. The lump was 12 millimetres at the time and was at the very top-right of my left breast. You couldn’t see it to look at me, but you could easily feel it as it was just below the skin.

Next, they sent me for a mammogram. The doctor told me this might hurt a bit, but it really didn’t. Mammograms involve standing up and whapping your boobs out one by one onto a sort of glass platform. Then the nurse moves another platform down so that your breast is wedged firmly into a vice-like clamp, and they take a few X-ray photos. It feels a bit uncomfortable but certainly not painful and it’s over in minutes.

I was extremely lucky to go to a private ER because I had the result within hours. I went back to work for a few hours and then returned to the hospital and saw the first doctor again. He told me that the lump was probably a fibroadenoma, because it had smooth sides and did not move around. His words, translated into English here, were along the lines of: “It is almost certainly nothing to worry about. You don’t need to have any more tests, but you could go and get it checked again when you move countries, just to be sure.” In 99% of lumps with characteristics like mine, it is not cancer, he said. Tears sprung to my eyes again. They were tears of relief, even though there was an element of frustration that I didn’t have the 100% all-clear – I just had a “probably”. Nevertheless, I returned to work again, relieved that I could now go wine-tasting in Mendoza with peace of mind. (And I intended to have a jolly big glass of wine!)

A month later, I had quit my job and moved to Dublin. I was unemployed for a few weeks before starting my new job, so I had no medical insurance. On the encouragement of family and friends, I begrudgingly paid the 60 euros it costs to see a doctor in Ireland and told the lovely female Irish doctor about the tests I’d had done in Argentina. She said she was surprised they’d given me a mammogram because they don’t normally show good results for women under 35 because of the consistency of the breast tissue (or something like that). Once again I got my boobs out and allowed her to have a feel around. She told me it felt like a fibroadenoma and that I had almost nothing to worry about, but that it was best if I went for further tests just to be sure.

I had a 6-week wait for my appointment at the hospital in Dublin, by which point I had started my new job at Facebook. My appointment was just a consultation and therefore involved getting my breasts out once again (I was used to it by this point!) for another female Irish doctor, who told me exactly the same – it’s very likely to be a fibroadenoma. Both Irish doctors also looked at the printed mammogram and ultrasound results I brought with me from Buenos Aires. She then referred me for tests, for which I would have to wait another 4 weeks. I wish that the first Irish doctor had referred me for tests urgently. She said there was no urgency, particularly because of the tests the Argentine doctors had already done, but in hindsight, all three of the doctors should have taken note when I told them my maternal grandmother had breast cancer at a young age.

This all takes us to Thursday 14th June, 2012 – exactly four months after my initial ER visit in Argentina, and a little more than that since I found the lump. The appointment was at St. Vincent’s hospital in Dublin, and I was first taken for an ultrasound. The lump had doubled in size, to about 24mm. I was then called in for a mammogram, which I thought was strange, given the previous advice that they don’t give mammograms to women under 35. It hurt a tiny bit more this time when they squeezed my boobs into the vice – the Irish doctors were a little more forceful than the Argentine ones! I was then taken to the waiting room in my hospital robe and told I would be given a second ultrasound. I know it’s a little naive, but it really didn’t occur to me that there was anything wrong, because I’d had so many doctors’ reassurances up to that point. I just figured it was all routine, and nobody told me otherwise.

In the room for the second ultrasound, the air conditioning was on arctic mode and I had to lie with my top off on a bed for ten minutes waiting for the nurses to come back. One nurse and one doctor came, and they started ultrasounding me again. Both were female and were absolutely lovely – in fact, all the doctors and nurses I had dealt with up to that point in both Argentina and Ireland were lovely. They then told me they needed to do a core biopsy, and this would involve sticking a very large needle into my side under local anaesthetic. I would hear a loud gun noise and may have some discomfort, but I shouldn’t be able to feel it, they said. Believe it or not, I had never had a local anaesthetic, apart from once at the dentist, and all of a sudden I felt weak and shaky and then got pins and needles in my legs. This made me feel scared, and tears came to my eyes for the third time and my voice went all shaky. The biopsy took about ten minutes. I could see the needle jabbing around inside me on the computer screen and it felt very odd. The nurse was holding me in position while the doctor prodded me with the giant needle and it was very uncomfortable but not exactly painful. Nevertheless, I was very shaken, and quite sore for a few days afterwards.

After the test, they stuck a big bandage on my breast and the nurse took me behind a screen in the waiting room and gave me a cup of tea and some biscuits as I felt so shaky and emotional. It’s hard to describe why I felt so emotional. At no point that day did I think “I must have breast cancer.” But I had never had anything done in hospital before and the whole experience really scared me. I kept saying to the nurse “I’m so sorry, I’m being so pathetic, I’m honestly fine, I don’t mean to cry but I can’t help it”. She kept assuring me that I was being really brave and it was natural to cry. Of course, she knew that I probably had cancer, so she thought I had much more reason to cry than I knew at the time. But I wasn’t crying because I thought I had cancer. I simply had no idea.

I went straight home that day and didn’t go back to work. You could see the bandage out of the top of my lowish-cut dress and I needed to cover it up, plus I just felt too shaken, shaky and sore to go back. I texted my Mum to tell her about the test. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, one of her friends had died of cancer that day, so my news came as a double blow. I was told to go back to the hospital for the result one week later.

On Friday 22nd June, I skipped off to the hospital for my appointment at 10:15 a.m. and told my team I’d be back at work in a couple of hours, knowing there is always a long wait at hospital. But once I got there, I was seen pretty much straight away. A female nurse collected me from the waiting room at Dublin’s St. Vincent’s and took me to a private room, where a male doctor greeted me. The three of us sat down.

“Did you bring anyone with you today?” the nurse asked. And that was the moment I knew.

Of course, I had absolutely no idea that I needed to take someone with me that day, because I had no idea I had cancer. In a way, my naivety was a blessing because it meant I didn’t spend a whole week worrying about the test result. If I had even so much as Googled ‘core biopsy,’ I’m sure I would have realised, but I just passed it all off as routine. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

So that’s my story of how it all happened, right up to diagnosis. I hope that by sharing this story, I will help you understand exactly what happens when you find a lump and what the different steps are like. Of course, every case is different, but it’s not a process to be scared of. There are occasions when a doctor misdiagnoses, so if you are in any doubt whatsoever, get it checked and then get it checked again. There is never any harm in getting checked out. As I said in my Candy Pink Announcement, the worst thing you can ever do is ignore it.