I am writing this post, which I have been inspired to write after reading a blog from James Morrison (an actor I greatly admire) who went through the cancer journey with his son.
So here is my story. I am 31 years old and in my life I have had 4 cancer scares dating back to my early years. When I was a child I had a suspicious mole on my leg so the doctors did not want to wait to see if it turned into cancer. I remember screaming my head off when they were removing the dressings but nothing before that. When I was in year 6 (aged 9/10 I believe) I had a sizeable lump on my left shoulder. Doctors once again decided preventative was better then the wait and see approach as I was so young. In my teens I had a giant lump grow on the back of my head which was so painful I could not sleep on my back as it would make me cry my eyes out. After tests and doctors visits turned out to be nothing more then a very nasty infection which meant LOADS of heavy duty medication, time off of school and lots of times wondering if I would smother myself in my sleep as I had to sleep on my front the whole time. Lastly, I had a 14 centermeter lump in my left breast as an adult. This was by far the worst of my 4 cancer scares partly because of the size and the location. I was only in my early 20’s and the first thought that ran through my mind was OMG they are going to have to cutt my boob off. This turned out to be benign but also a semi rare type of tumor called a phyllodes Tumor.
So I will go back a bit as I am going to talk about the last cancer scare I had. Growing up (when I hit puberty) I always had problems with my periods. They would be irregular, painful (abulences called numerous times) and many days off of school. It took me 3 years before I managed to get a doctor to prescribe me the pill so that I could at least make them regular. They would come on without any warning with occassions where they were so heavy bedding and school uniforms had to be thrown out because they just were no good anymore. Now you may be wondering why your getting this info first. Basically I am of the opinion this is what cased the problems in the first place. Every time I had a bad period I would notice that my left breast would get a little lumpy. After the period went so too did the lump so I was never really concerned about it.
This all changed when I had been inimate with someone I liked (as an adult) and he noticed that the lump had not gone!!! I FREAKED!!!! This had never happened before and never been noticeable by anyone before… I went into panic mode. I immediately went to the doctors at the first available appointment and said I was concerned. Because he was a male dotor he had to get me to book another appointment the next day with a nurse (Safeguarding you know) at which point he examined me. The look on his face whilst examining, especially as they kinda have to put pressure on it (WHICH HURT LIKE HELL), I started to panic again. The doctor clearly saw I was about to have a full on panic attack and said, “dont worry (yeah right) we will get you an ultra sound and go from there”. Though I did not leave with my fears eased, I did leave with an urgent ultrasound referral and a hospital to go to the next day which I did feel slightly relieved about as someone was taking me seriously. Now side note. I am not one to cry wolf. I only goto the doctor when I know something is wrong and the doctor will be the only one to help. My GP knew this about me which I think is why he took me as seriously as he did,
The next day I went to the original hospital they sent me to… This hospital seriously needs to get a kick in the teeth. When I explained why I was there and what I needed and that my GP had sent me there for an URGENT ultrasound they said “we can not help but we will put you in for an appointment for April” to put this in context it was January or February when I went there. So there I am, being told that I cant be seen until April, with a lump in my breast and all I could think of is I have cancer, I am going to die. I refused to let these people see me cry… I made it all the way to the bus stop to go home, and I called my mum to tell her what had happened unfortunately as soon as she answered I could not keep the tears in and there I was in the middle of the street crying my eyes out to my mum who honestly could of come down and kicked them all in the ass. What she did do however was tell me to come home, while I was coming home she was going to try and ring the GP and ask what we could do.
As the GP was running surgery it was like an hour after I got home where he once again asked me what happened and once again, I balled my eyes out. He was so livid but at the same time was the cooler head which helped. He said he would call me back again with a solution and once again, not to worry. He called back almost immediately and told me to go to another hospital which was closer to where I lived. He had spoken to the Ultrasound department and explained the situation. He told me they would be expecting me there asap so they could do an ultrasound. I was so tired from all the crying that I just thanked him. I could of thanked him for the rest of the day and he in the end told me to get off the phone or I would nmiss my opportunity to get it done that day. I immediatly sprang into action and almost ran there.
Getting an ultrasound on your breast is the most peculiar thing ever invented in the world. The gelly alone sent shivers down my spine. But I got it done. The ultrasound technicians said they thought it was cysts and that they didnt think it would be cancerous from what they saw which, as they were the experts in radiology it really made me feel at ease. They sent the results to my GP and within a week I was back at the GP hearing that I would be refferred to the Marlsden Hospital ( a cancer specialist to get follow ups)
It took a while to get the appointment for the Marlsden but I new it was in the works so I breathed easier… Kinda. The Marlsden had suffered a fire so they had to make sure that they had availability to see me as they were short on space but when I finally got there once again I had to have another ultrasound, this one however was an ultrasound with a twist! I had to have a biopsy done as well…. DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNNNNNN.
Now what you dont know about me is that I am terrified of needles. My mum who was a former nurse ended up having to give me my glu shots as a child because doctors were scared to come near me as I would scream as if someone was trying to kill me so to have a biopsy done somewhere so visable was almost hell for me. Shockingly to both me and the technicians my eyes were GLUED to the ultrasound screen. I just wanted to see what they saw so that I could know what was happening in my body. After this appointment I had to meet the consultant. He was a very nice guy and the nurse was a wonderful Northern Irish woman who just lit up the room. Though I was terrified of what was happening she looked after me. The news was it. It was benign. I swear I nearly passed out. The stress, the tears, the anxiety really had done a number on me and coupled with the fact that the lump was more noticeable I was relieved. The consultant told me that thought it was not cancerious because of its size they wanted to remove it and set the date for two weeks later. I was happy and scared at the same time.On this journey I had to get my breatss out so many times honestly I started loosing concern about it. The problem was that I had to go to SURRY for the operation. This was because they had had the fire at their London Wards :S. Following on in the lead up to the opperation I had other appointments I had to attend… More needles and more of the same (getting my breasts out) but the day was finally there. Me and my mum went to Surry at silly o’clock in the morning, me, hunry and thursty but just wanting to get it over with. The lump had gotten bigger during this process to the point I had to start wearing my dads clothes (who was larger then me at the time) so that I could hide the mis shaped boob. I was so self concious of it it was unreal.
Had to wait ages to go to theatre because of the anestetics. But finally, the consultant arrived with a bunch of students to look me over before the operation. This was where I was going to make it fun. With all operations I fear they draw on you. This I believe is where all shame about my boobs left the building. I had a doctor drawing on them in front of medical students. SO planning on making it better I joked that it wasnt fair he got to draw on me and I was not allowed to. He left me with the marker so I drew on my hand. I wrote Left on my right hand and Right on my Left hand… Slighly confused the anestatists when they took me through but they laughed about it none the less.
Obviously I ont know how the operation when as I was unconcious throught (THANK GOD) but after I became an attempted escape artitsi. Forgot that when sitting down you dont feel the anestetic effects but when you stand up, lets say I hit the floor a few times.. Not good with a drain. They even had to post a nurse outsside my door just incase… Eventually the nurses almost let me get away with murder as I was bored the days following. AFter the operation, I had the healing process to go through this was hard because for two weeks I felt caged at home. The only time I went out was to go for walks to the top of the street and back or to the hospital. But I recovered. I then went on the journey of yearly check ups to make sure it didnt come back. I almost skipped through the door for the final check up… You would of thought I had gone for a premierof a movie. Finally got the all clear to not come back for more check ups and I was so pleased.
This journey was one of the hardest yet most rewarding ones I have been on. Yes I spent most of the time in constant fear and I was scared every time september came around for my yearly check ups but I met some amazing people as well. I met families who’s kids were not as lucky as me and had cancer. The strength they showed even if they knew it was a fight they were not going to win astounded me. The staff were so loving I could not believe it honestly. They were with me every step of the way and they were there for the tears, the fears, the pain, and the funny moments too.
So this rather long post leads into this. I have finally plucked up the courage to Brave the SHave on May 6th for Cancer research. I have been through the fear of wondering if its cancer and was lucky enough that the answer was no it was not. Many people however are not as lucky as I was. Many people young and old have to face this aweful illness and hope and pray that it never returns if they are able to beat it. So I ask any of you out there. Please donate to Cancer research UK or donate to my Just giving campaign for my Brave the SHave on May 6th 2018 https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising-edit/Suze-Fricker2
I am not an elequent writer especially not as elequent as some people who I admire greatly but this is an honest account and together maybe one day we can find a cure for all cancers so no one has to go through this again.