Breast Cancer: How It All Started/ Diagnosis Day

March 1, 2024


December 19th 2022 was the day that I got diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Grade 2. 6.5cm tumour in my left breast. It was an aggressive one. Yes, I hear you asking, how could you not feel a lump that big? Because, like many other people out there, I wasn’t checking. I was 31, fit and healthy. Why would someone like me get cancer?! I got cancer because cancer doesn’t give a shit how old you are, what our skin colour is, how many fruit and veg you eat a day or what your damn name is. It’s going to come for you when it wants to! (If you haven’t guessed it yet, I’m going to get quite blunt in this blog).

So what made me go and get checked? This was a very popular question when people first found out about my cancer. I had one of the tiniest symptoms, but because it wasn’t something normal for me, alarm bells rang. Ladies (sorry guys but you can’t relate to this one), I had the boob ache. You know the one you get when Aunt Flow is planning on dropping by? That one. Only it was only in one boob, it went on for longer than it should’ve, and Aunt Flow wasn’t due for a visit that soon. So something wasn’t right. I made the call to my GP, got seen that day, and she referred me to the Breast Clinic at my hospital. Two weeks later, I was at the hospital, in a gown, ready for my mammogram. But it wasn’t just a mammogram I was going to have that day. I went in to see the Doctor. Clothes off from the waist up. Had a good feel and she said “Oh, this feels like a cyst. It’s moving around so it most likely is a cyst, but we’re going to check it out anyway”. A slight wave of relief came over me. The mammogram came first, and be warned everyone, it is not a comfortable process. Yes, your boob literally gets shoved into a giant plastic clamp. But these things have to be done! Next up was an ultrasound. Okay, a lot less painful. I had one done before for a kidney infection. But what I wasn’t expecting was for them to tell me that they’d be doing a biopsy. Suddenly, I was wishing my boob was being shoved back in that mammogram machine again. Sorry if I’m scaring you but I’ve got to be upfront here. A biopsy, especially one in your boob, bloody hurts! But again, these are the things that need to be done to get the answers everyone’s looking for. Yes they give you local anaesthetic to numb the area. But it still hurts. After you’ve been numbed, they cut a hole as an entrance for the biopsy needle/ GUN! Before I knew it, three 3 inches of thick needle was being shoved into my boob. BANG! First biopsy taken. BANG! Second. BANG! Third and final one. If you’ve ever been sucker punched in the chest, you’ll know how it feels. So the manhandling was finally out of the way, but…

My suspicions grew when they said that they’d be testing my biopsy sample there and then. Sorry NHS, I love you dearly, but sometimes you guys are not known for your quick turnaround on test results. So for me to be told that you’d be testing my sample that minute and for me to wait for the results there and then, I knew it must be something serious for you to be acting on it that fast! 

So I got changed, went back outside to sit with my partner, and waited. Not that much longer later, the nurse that had been dealing with me hurried back into the Doctors office, to then quickly reappear, scuttle past me into the nurses office, to then reappear with another nurse (who you will quickly learn in my future posts has now become an amazing friend) to then rush back into the Doctors office. Not 5 seconds later, we were called in. THEN, right then, I knew and I prepared myself for what I was about to be told.

“Helen, I’m sorry to tell you that you have Breast Cancer”

I didn’t react like how they do in the adverts. I didn’t cry. I didn’t faint or collapse. I didn’t scream or ask why me? I simply said “So what do we do now?” That reaction had me written all over it to be honest. I hadn’t really thought about dying before, and I knew that it certainly wasn’t going to happen this soon, so I needed to know what the next move was to stop the grim reaper from taping my shoulder too early. Yes, you’re probably thinking “Damn Helen, morbid much?” I told you that I was going to be blunt, and when faced with cancer, you’ve just got to be. There’s no beating round the bush, sugar coating things or “Give it to me nicely”. There’s no time for that and quite frankly, it’s not going to help the situation. Facts are facts! 

I think the Doctor wasn’t really sure with how I responded. Maybe she thought I was some kind of emotionless robot. Sorry sweetie, but what you’ll learn overtime is that I like to just get to the point. I wanted to deal with this shit head on. I was told that they would need to do further testing to determine exactly what kind of cancer it is that I have (more on that later on). So I was told to come back the following week once they have the results back.

Jayne (my new bestie!) walked us out of the room and told us to follow her into what I call the Quiet Room. It’s basically the small room you go in with the comfy sofa and hundreds to leaflets where you go and cry! Which I still wasn’t doing. She sat us down (and this is why I love Jayne so much) and gave it to me bluntly. Just what I needed! Someone who didn’t talk to me like a child or someone with wafer thin skin. She asked me how I felt. Shock obviously, but I’ve been told that I have a very high chance of getting through this, so that is the goal I’m sticking with. Why think negatively over a positive outcome? She wanted to make sure that I was clear on what I had just heard. What I was about to have to go through. It was at this point that I had become completely oblivious to the fact that my partner had turned an unnatural shade of green. (Sorry Luke!). Jayne was the one who noticed it. Luke rushed outside saying that he felt faint. I 100% believe that he was totally trying to steal my thunder! Haha! But jokes aside, so often the patient becomes the focus of the situation (obviously) that the partner is often overlooked. This person has just been told that their loved one, the person they have chosen to be with, planned a future with etc etc, is now smack bang in the firing line of death. I know full damn well that if it had been the other way around, I couldn’t handle it. I’d be trying to sell my soul to find the quickest fix. A small backstory. Luke very unfortunately lost his Mum not 11 months before this to Lung Cancer. (Well done Helen on adding drama to more drama!) So this news to him must’ve felt like a bullet to the chest. I will say this a lot, but cancer is a nasty piece of shit! 

We were sent on our way with a handful of leaflets and some email addresses, and told “We’ll see you next week”. 

It’s a kind of numb feeling when you walk out of those hospital doors. We didn’t really say anything to each other. Not until we started walking home. “What are we going to tell your parents?” “Nothing” I said. We didn’t even have the answers yet as to what was going on. So until we did, no one was to know about this until we would have the information we needed to the answers we knew everyone was going to be asking. All I knew is that my life just changed forever.

(If you have any questions that you’d like answered throughout my posts, write the in them comment section below and I’ll answer them all for you).


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ABOUT helen

At home nearest good company. Ever-focused on the experiences my job brings me. 

I know that this will sound so clichè to say, but I really do love my job. I live for it!! They say you should do things that make you happy, and honestly, knowing that the photos I capture can bring others such joy, that makes me complete.
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