Archives for posts with tag: 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.

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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.

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!

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!

20130620-221342.jpgHappy Cancerversary
to Me…
Happy Cancerversary
to Me…
Happy Cancerversary
Dear Lau-raaa…
Happy Cancerversary
to Me!

Hip-hip…

Ok, you may detect a hint of irony. I have long hated the word ‘Cancerversary.’ First of all, it doesn’t go particularly well with the word ‘happy,’ which should be reserved for things like holidays and families and birthdays and cake. ‘Cancerversary’ is up there with ‘Your cancer journey’ and ‘Your battle with cancer’ in my Most Disliked Cancer Terminology book, even though I’m guilty of using some of these myself. It’s also perhaps because I’m a grammar and spelling Nazi that I hate the adding of ‘-versary’ onto anything that isn’t ‘anni,’ but don’t get me started on that.

Hating aside, today is the anniversary of the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I would like to say it was the worst day of my life, but the truth is there were far worse days to come. A year ago today, I was the naive Laura who said things like “Ah, it’s just like breaking a leg” and “I’ll be running marathons again by the end of the year.” Pah! Little did I know what was ahead of me.

BUT…

I survived. And the fact is, I’m doing wonderfully. I haven’t quite got the ‘One-year all-clear’ yet because I’m still waiting for my mammogram and MRI scan, but the important thing is I feel healthier and happier than I did a year ago.

As proof, here is a photo of me looking suitably content on a beach in Ireland last week (yes, I did just say “content,” “beach” and “Ireland” in the same sentence – we were truly blessed with the weather.)

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And, while I may not have fulfilled my slightly farfetched hopes of running marathons by the end of 2012, I did manage to climb to the very top of this rather sizeable mountain in Ireland last week and am making significant progress training for the half marathon I’m going to attempt in October.

IMG_0553Considering there were times during chemo when I couldn’t stand on my feet long enough to even brush my teeth, I’d say I’ve come a pretty long way. So there!

Rejoicing aside though, I am very aware the ‘cancer journey’ (for want of a better phrase) doesn’t end here. Life goes on for me, but I’m well aware not everyone is so ‘lucky,’ which is why we’ve got to continue spreading the message and encouraging early detection. I’m very proud to have joined forces with Coppafeel!’s Boobettes and will be giving my first breast-cancer awareness talk to the boys and girls of Britain next month. (More on this later).

So… while I may not exactly love the phrase ‘Happy Cancerversary,’ I’m going to celebrate anyway, because I’m alive and well and that’s good enough for me!

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,

Laura

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