Tuesday 6th March 2018
Carl went off to work as normal, we didn’t think it was necessary for him to have a day off to come with me just to have a mammogram. My sister came to work from our house and looked after Sienna for me while I went to the hospital with my mum.
We arrived at the Horton General Hospital for 10.30am and got directed down the corridor to the same waiting room we had sat in the previous week when I went for the ultrasound scan and biopsy. I felt nervous for some reason, something just didn’t feel right. I still couldn’t work out why I needed a mammogram after having a biopsy.
We waited about 15 minutes before we got called into a room, we walk in, a male consultant greeted us and a female senior nurse sat behind a desk. My first thought was, not another male that had to examine me. Mum and I sat down, the consultant sat to the side of me. He introduced himself to us, then looked at me and said, ‘I understand you have been chasing your results and are keen to know what they are.’ Yes, correct, its been a long 4 weeks to get to this point. He gave me a look which I will never forget, followed by, ‘I’m sorry, its not good news, its cancer’.
Mum and I instantly flood into tears, we could not believe what we had just heard. I will never forget that sentence. My world fell apart in the blink of an eye. Cancer! I have cancer. One of my first thoughts was, this cant be happening, its too close to home. I had already lost my first husband to the awful disease 11 years ago. He said he would always protect me, why is this happening to me?!
Mum is squeezing me tightly, I feel numb, trying to stop the tears rolling down my face. she’s saying, ‘my baby, my baby’. Her heart is breaking. The news no Mother wants to hear. Other thoughts start going through my head, I’m pregnant, what will happen to my baby. My daughter, is she going to be without a Mummy. My husband, how do I break the news to my husband, my dad, my sister.
I look up, the senior nurse is discreetly wiping her eyes. The consultant is waiting for me to calm down a little before he starts talking me through the results of my biopsy and the next steps. I hear everything he’s saying but my mind is elsewhere. He tells me I have a grade 3 invasive ductal carcinoma and it is HER2 negative (triple negative breast cancer). I panic when I hear ‘grade 3’ but he explains the difference in ‘grade’ and ‘stage’. There are 3 grades to cancer, 1, 2 and 3. 3 being the most aggressive, great, I couldn’t have had 1 or 2 could I, it had to be the most aggressive form. There are 4 stages to determine the cancer. Luckily, I am stage 1, which means the tumour is small and has not spread to the lymph nodes in my armpit. How could a lump I found overnight have turned into this nightmare. I asked how long the tumour would have been there, no longer than 6 months he said. Around the same time I fell pregnant.
He starts writing all my options down:
Still I’m hearing it but not taking it all in. Due to me being pregnant, 22 weeks, it complicates things slightly. If I was in my first trimester and had found the lump, there would be a very high risk that the baby wouldn’t survive going through surgery and treatment. Being in my second trimester the risk is lowered, there is still a risk but the chances I will have a normal pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby are higher. Thank god!
He spoke about surgery, which he would be carrying out. Talking me through the procedure and that it could be happening in as little as 2 weeks. He said he will do everything he can to get me in for surgery asap. I had already started to warm to him, I needed to trust him. The plan was to remove the tumour then go onto have chemotherapy and possibly radiotherapy. We also spoke about this briefly. He then examined me and sent me over to have a mammogram, the thing I thought I was originally going for, but was instead hit with the devastating news I had breast cancer.
Mum and I waited for me to be called in for the mammogram, waves of emotion and shock coming over us both. I said, how the hell am I going to break the news to Carl, Dad and my sister. By this time I had been in with the consultant for a hour, it was 11.45am and I kept thinking I needed to tell Carl to his face, how could I break the news to him over the phone while he was at work.
I got called in to have the mammogram, tears rolling down my face as the lady wraps a sheet of lead around my bump and places my breast on the cold plate of the machine. It didn’t take long and they got the images they needed then I went back out to mum in the waiting room where I then had to wait to have an ultrasound on my armpits to double check the cancer hadn’t spread to my lymph nodes.
I said to Mum, I need to ring Carl, I cant wait any longer. I stepped outside the hospital and made the phone call, there was no answer, I rang again, still no answer. I decided to ring a friend of ours who he was working with. I told him to stay near Carl as what I was going to tell him wasn’t good news. Carl comes on the phone, I break the news to him, he’s shouting, no, no, its not Danielle. The emotion came flooding down the phone. He was breaking inside, which was breaking me too. I was trying to stay as strong as I could and explain briefly what was happening. He calmed down a little and got a lift straight home from work.
I also rang my dad and told him, you can imagine his reaction was pretty much the same. His precious daughter has been diagnosed with cancer. Heart-breaking. I asked him to go straight to my house to break the news to my sister. I had been avoiding answering her texts, I wanted Dad to tell her to her face even thought she was already thinking the worst. I went back into the waiting room with mum and then got called to go down to ultrasound.
I saw the two nurses who were in with me the week before when I had the biopsy. They were shocked to see me again and couldn’t believe my news. Luckily, as the consultant expected, the cancer hadn’t spread to my lymph nodes. That’s good news they said, good news, how can any of this be good news. I know it was good that it hadn’t spread but I still have breast cancer!
As I left the room Mum and I started to walk out of the hospital, Carl came walking towards me. Embracing each other in the most emotional hug we have ever had. We all go back to our house where the rest of my family were. It was just awful. Seeing Sienna, my sister and Dad broke me to pieces.
I was filling them all in on what had happened, my brother-in-law was walking towards my bedroom to check on Sienna, we all hear, ‘oh no, what are you doing’. We all rush out the living room to see what’s happened, he’s carrying her out of the bedroom and we all burst out laughing. She had been sat at my dressing table and smothered her lips in my bright pink lipstick. How the innocence of a child can still make you laugh when you have just had the most devastating news a few hours previous.