This post has been in draft form for a long time. Unfortunately, I had other thing's in life to prioritise and I finally sat down last night to re-edit etc. If this post prod's someone to self-check and/or make a Breast Cancer Screening appointment that's the point of writing this.
Check your boobies regularly!
This is a post I thought I'd never write. I don't know why I thought that but there's no family history of breast cancer so it has come as quite a shock.
My Mum has been ill for a few month's constantly feeling tired but she has a few other health problem's like a bad Lung, Arthritis, a constantly sore back, trouble walking and a Liver problem.
It was because she had trouble breathing and was in a great deal of pain on 30th December she went into Emergency to find the cause and after about 6 hour's of waiting for result's and a scan the Dr came to us with new's everything appeared to be okay. Mum was no longer in pain and wanted to go home (as did I) and then the Dr said but we found a small thing we're concerned about in your Scan (she'd had a full body scan) of your left breast. The Dr wrote a letter for Mum and sent it to her doctor for Mum to have a Mammogram.
Now this is where I cannot stress enough the importance of having a yearly Mammogram because I was shocked to find out my Mum hadn't had a Mammogram for at least 5 year's! The thing's you find out when Dr's ask's question's. Mum's excuse was because she's over the age of where it's FREE and she thought she'd be okay. I was extremely shocked to hear this and angry. If only she'd told me. Her excuse was it cost's a lot of money, money that I need to pay bill's etc. and I agree Mammogram's are expensive, if your not covered, it's once a year you have to come up with the money and if my Mum had said she had difficulty finding the money to have her scan I would've at least tried to come up with half the money but no she decided it wasn't necessary and that's not right way of thinking!
Now that we know she hadn't had a Mammogram for 5 year's she was sent within a few day's to have one as an emergency at the hospital and because she had a Dr's letter it was free. The result's came back within a few day's and they were inconclusive so they arranged for Mum to go have a biopsy which basically mean's they take a sample from the breast and send it off to be tested by Breast Cancer Dr's.
I don't know how much they took or what the result of that was exactly but they sent her back to the Breast Screening Clinic and she had a Nurse do a proper examination again and another biopsy and the same day she was diagnosed with breast cancer and at the end waiting around for another 3 or 4 hour's they had given her a date to turn up to hospital for the lump removal and talked to her about having Radiotherapy. We live in a small town so the only hospital close enough for cancer treatment is 4 hour's away each way in Hamilton so my Mum will travel there for Radiotherapy. There's been no talk of Mastectomy. I hope it's not necessary but we'll cross that bridge if we come to it.
Whilst waiting for the hospital admission date, the hospital rang her to give her pre-operation care eg. don't eat the night before, bring your own clothes, toiletries etc and any medication's must be given to the Anaesthetist so he can adjust the dosage for the general anaesthetic etc. During this phone call my Mum coughed a few time's and the nurse checked her notes from the blood test's she'd had and found Mum had an Infection. Immediately the operation was cancelled. They told Mum to come to the hospital after a 7 day treatment of Antibiotics, they left it too late in the day (a Friday) for her to go to the Dr to get a prescription so she was in pain for 3 day's. They also failed to tell her in the 10 day's since her blood test that she had an infection and so there's been an official investigation launched into the failure to communicate to the patient she had an infection and therefore the operation was cancelled. My family aren't impressed by the hospital's lack of communication.
Early February 2015
I want to spread how important it is for you have a yearly Mammogram, you regularly self-check your breast's and if you notice any difference in your health or your breast eg tiredness or maybe some puckering or discharge from your breast and there might be changes to your breast's during your period, you immediately see your Dr to get a referral for a Mammogram. If you arrange it through your Dr the chances are it will be at your local hospital and it won't cost you anything but even if it cost's $150 or $200 it's once a year until you qualify for your local breast screening in your country. Assuming you have such a thing. I know it's different from country to country but here in NZ and in Australia I think after a certain age you qualify for a free screening.
20th February 2015
Fast forward 3 week's and Mum is out of hospital for the Infection and has been on an at home IV with Antibiotics for about 10 day's, they're sending her for another blood test this Tuesday to see if the medication is killing her infection or if they have to up the dosage, we hope it's not the latter.
Today, 20th February with Mum's 75th birthday on the 22nd, we still don't have a breast cancer operation date. It's getting ridiculous that even though it's Stage 1, thing's seem to be taking too long. I don't know how long Mum will be in hospital the next time or when she'll be sent to Hamilton for Radiation treatment but that's 4 hour's each way from where we live.
Please self-check regularly. Breast Cancer doesn't care how old you are, or your sex. I didn't know this until recently but Men are diagnosed with breast cancer too!
The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation has information here about Breast Cancer, what you should do, a link to a PDF you can printout as a shower card to show you how to self-check is here. Information about Mammogram's is here.
I'll update you again once Mum's had her operation (as at today, we still don't know a date) but we're hoping after her blood test on Tuesday she's closer to her being Admitted to hospital to have it removed. It's Breast Cancer Stage 1 - it's still scary knowing it's still in there and it's life-threatening.
I hope this explain's why I haven't posted on my blog for a long time. I posted about Mum's breast cancer diagnosis on my Twitter a few week's ago but I was still trying to let the new's sink in so that's why this post wasn't published earlier. I hope also this post prompt's you to self-check, notice any changes or unsure, go see your Dr immediately. #CheckThemBoobies #BreastCancerAwareness