I wasn't feeling myself

I find I have a confession to make.

Two months ago I went for an annual lady health check and the doctor found a lump in my right breast.

A lump that I hadn't noticed. I will stop here and say "everything was fine" okay? so keep reading. Why hadn't I noticed? because I am not very well endowed so most days my breasts are made up of the latest science and technology available in the Bra Shop.

And what I do have is mostly made up of lumps so how am I to tell?

I should pay more attention I know. My big sister was diagnosed with Breast Cancer just after her 40th birthday in 2006. And yes, she too is okay.

She had an awful time of it, several operations, a long spell of chemo, a lot of worry over getting a reconstruction (she got one - eventually) and then the recovery from all of that.

I saw her at Christmas time and she looks fantastic with her new dark Botticelli curls and pert, buxom bust line. She is doing great thank you.

I also saw her when she got the news, almost 3 years ago. I was there with my Boo for my first trip home in 5 years and she had to go and get bloody cancer.

I was absolutely no use to her and her 3 vibrant and energetic children and supportive pragmatic husband. I had to get on a plane back to the other side of the world and leave them to deal with everything.

My little sister and her family helped out of course and between them all, they got through it.

I'm not sure I would have been much more than moral support if I had have been there.

My "Double Autism" Card would have kept coming up against her Cancer Card and in a lot of ways I think having my situation in closer proximity might have made things harder for everyone.

The family needed to concentrate on the practicalities of having someone very ill to care for a lot of the time - and she needed to care for herself.

When it happened, I felt a selfish grief at potentially being cheated out of my sister.

I also had a strong sense of unfairness about it - "Hang on, I got the Serious Shit to Deal With cards in this family" and that should make everyone else immune, so what's going on here?"

And I am sorry if that offends any of my pro-autism readers. Yes there are a lot of blessings with autism, but there are a lot of challenges and they take a lot of time and energy.

But of course, it doesn't work like that. Just as science and evolution can throw up some roguish DNA that gives you not one but two kids with special needs, it throws sinister cells into people that you love and gives them cancer.

And then 2 months ago, I thought it had gone and thrown those cells at me.

Well my confession is that I am not wonder woman. I am only just about managing to juggle all the balls and spin the plates and put on my lipstick while slipping on my high heels and straightening my hair at the same time now.

I'm just not sure I have anything left over for anything else.

Things turned out okay for me this time. I got a mamo and ultrasound, a consultant felt me up and they all concurred that it was soft movable and not at all sinister tissue, probably as a result of hormones or a knock of some kind.

Say from an overly energetic and growing autistic 11 year old who doesn't know his own strength.

It turns out a lot of women have these lumpy boob scares which turn out to be okay. You only find this out when it happens to you.

And it wasn't so bad. The hospital appointment came mercifully quick and the clinic is in a nice place. The staff and equipment were all neat and efficient. It took a lot of the fear out of it....

Until that moment when they are click clacking across the tiled floor behind the curtain looking at your scans and hesitating while you lie there in a blue gown still damp with the ultrasound goop, experiencing true terror.

I thought I was a pretty brave person. I take whatever is being dished out and stand up to it and even go back in for more.

But this was beyond me.

Still, I got a reprieve this time. And I have resolved since to feel myself regularly and report any changes in the landscape of that region.

3 days later on World Autism Day I had to be the "autism host" at a Charity Penalty Shoot out (a soccer thing) with 14 Irish Celebrities and a load of staff volunteers from one of the major sponsors of Irish Autism; O2. You can read more about this here on my work blog.

Then I had to go on live afternoon television with Boo and Mr Hammie to talk more about world autism day.

It was like water off a duck's back. Because I knew what real fear was. I knew what mattered.

Wherever you are, Find out about Fashion Targets Breast Cancer and be a visible supporter.

And keep feeling yourself.



Anonymous said…
I'm right there, Hammie. Had my scare earlier this year and it just about leveled me. I, too, am OK and grateful for fresh perspective.

I am SO GLAD you are OK. So glad.
drwende said…
Thank you thank you thank you for being forthright about how conflicted and ambivalent it's possible to be about family crises.
Clive said…
OMG, I'm in shock reading all that. Thank God everything worked out okay for you - it must have been a truly terrible time. I check myself regularly - having my mum and grandma die from breast cancer makes me just a touch paranoid!

The relief must have been absolutely incredible for you. As you say, puts everything into perspective!
Anonymous said…
Been there, got the t-shirt, and don't recommend the experience. I am very happy that everything turned out ok for you. As an experience cancer is highly overrated - certainly in my case didn't make me stronger or wiser or better in any way (maybe it is just me though). It got me a free pack of timtams :-)

WendyB said…
Phew! Glad you are okay!!!
K.Line said…
Jesus - like you don't have enough other things to think about?!?! I am seriously so happy you are alright. Next scare, feel free to tell us about it and we can rally you through it. Kxoxo
Skye said…
Stoked to hear that all is well for you and your boobs Hammie! (that's a bit of gold coast talk for you).

I've had about 3 of these lump situations now and they don't get any better.

Oh, honey, lump scares. So scary. I am so glad you are okay.
Unknown said…
So glad that it turned out ok for you! Tell Boo to jump on the sofa intstead :) xx
Lisamaree said…
Sal: thankyou. Being able to tell you and Big Sis W at the time helped. I just wasnt ready to talk about it.

DrWende: glad as usual that being honest helps.

Clive: sorry. That was one very good reason for not telling you sooner.xx

Truf: Sure the things you do to get free Tim Tams! (hope you are ship shape)

WendyB: thanks. Love new avatar pic!

K-Line: thankyou. No one was more amazed than me that I didnt want to talk about it!

Skye: I remembered you sitting in the waiting room with the emotional ethnic women. Our Waiting room at St Vincents was very upper middle class with routine over 50 scans and No! they were not going to wear the gown with the ties at the front.

La- Belle: thankyou honey. And I am loving your latest revelation. Makes so much sense!!

Tracey: as long as the lumps are not sinister, I don't mind! (as for that hair that has suddenly appeared on the scene...aHHHHHHH!)
Seeker said…
Hammie, my darling, I'm feeling soooooooooooooooooooo happy that you're OK, but I just can imagine what you have suffered until you knew that was ok.
I had a lump some time ago and I was during one year checking it since it didn't desapear I had to do a surgery. OMG it was such a complicated time!!!!!!!
So I can understand you, dear, and I wish I could helped you during that time.
But now everything is fine, so take good care of yourself!!!!!!!!
Love you!!!!!
And thank you for being who you are! And for your words of support.

Have a great weekend, gorgeous.

jazzygal said…
Oh God Hammie, that must have been a really scary and worrying time for you.

I'm just sooo glad to hear that you....and your sister....are ok now.

It's true though....we are simply to busy to be sick....or check oursleves. We simply have to MAKE the time though.

Take care missus....xx j
Casdok said…
So relieved that you are ok. And your sister to even though she must have gone through a hell of a time.
And even though i try and be a pro autism mum i think its only because so far i have managed to face all the challenges thrown our way. But i know there are many more to come.
Nan P. said…
Well Hammie, guess what?... I too am one of those lovely ladies who has had a scare (two actually). Not a nice experience, that's for sure. And such a fright!
It scared me so much, especially the second time as my sister-in-law had been diagnosed with breast cancer only a few months before... I have learnt 2 very valuable lessons from it:
1. check yourself REGULARLY
2. if something appears, check again a few days later (I have those little horrible ones that keep coming and going) and if it's not gone, DON'T PANICK, DON'T THINK, just go straight to the doc.

Sending you a BIG HUGE HUG.
Unknown said…
In anyway,i am very happy that you are ok now.And hope everything will goes right and good..Have a wonderful day Hammie.;D

Travel and Living
Tulippy said…
ok I've been trying to post for a while, twice I wimped out and twice it just didn't work, maybe this time it will.
I'm writing this not from a poor me perspective but to echo the sentiment that just because there is a diagnosis in your family doesn't free you up from another one.

My youngest daughter was diagnosed with hip dysplasia at 18 months old, this meant a spica cast for six months. This came off in June of that year, while in the middle of chicken pox!

Three months later I joined a very long waiting list for a (private) neurologist, to be told two days before Christmas that I had a serious brain tumour. Fortunately I received some amazing surgery and after about nine months recuperation, including a stint in the national rehabilitation hospital, I was well enough to resume my life, albeit with a few minorish differences.

All this ws prior to my sos's diagnosis of Asperger's, for a time everyone told me that his peculiar behaviours were due to my being ill and that he was just being a boy! But eventually it became apparent that it was more.

And yet again we received a difficult diagnosis.

So, the glass can be half full or half empty, I prefer to think of it as half full, that all that we have as a family now is extra bonus material that so nearly didn't happen.

Thanks Hammie for raising the subject, and keep up the good work, you keep us on our toes, and remind us that we are people in our own right too.
Lisamaree said…
Tulippy: I can see why you hesitated in posting but well done for doing so.

It is sharing these stories that makes us all aware of the reality that can be pushed aside.

I hope things are good with your health and your boy's diagnosis now.

kayla said…
I also am very glad you are ok as well. You def sound like you have your hands full as I can relate I have three kids with special needs and it does take everything you have and when something like this happens and is such a scare it takes all you have left. So glad your ok an I look forward to reading more of your blog!