In January, I began my next stage of cancer screening. Since I’m at an increased risk of developing lobular breast cancer (thanks to this pesky CDH1 mutation), I have been advised to have both annual mammograms and MRI scans from the age of 30. When I met with my gastro surgeon back in November, he decided to send the referral sooner.
In females with a known CDH1 gene mutation, the risk for developing lobular breast cancer by age 80 has been estimated at 42%. In the general population, lobular breast cancer occurs much less frequently than ductal breast cancer. However, lobular carcinoma is the type of breast cancer that can be associated with CDH1 mutations, and it may be difficult to diagnose (much like hereditary diffuse gastric cancer). The same type of cancer cells, called signet ring cells, can be found in both lobular breast cancer and diffuse gastric cancer.
Initially, I was sent for a mammogram and ultrasound. I was a little bit apprehensive prior to the appointment. Partly because I had others telling me that the mammogram was painful, but also because I wasn’t looking forward to getting my baps out in front of a total stranger (or three)! 🤦
Anyhow, the mammogram itself wasn’t bad at all – uncomfortable but bearable. It took a little bit of time for the Nurse to position each one into place on the plate (if done incorrectly, the scan picture isn’t good enough and has to be repeated), but the scanning part was over very quickly. I did however, experience some sharp pain in my left breast for some time afterwards, but this was only temporary.
During the ultrasound , they came across a small lump in my left breast (probably the cause of the pain after the mammogram). They explained that these are usually benign and commonly found in women my age. Instead of jumping the gun and doing a biopsy, they referred me for an MRI to get a more detailed scan.
2.5 months later (after I got tired of waiting and decided to email the hospital to chase up my referral), I received a letter from the Radiology department with my appointment date… Friday 13th 😨
I guess the build up to the appointment was worse than the actual appointment itself. I’d had an MRI many years ago, so I knew what to expect regarding the awfully loud sounds. But my episode of anxiety during my CT scan last year (thanks to claustrophobia and the burning sensation from the contrast) made me nervous. I also had the added stress of having to lay on my stomach for 30 minutes (what if I get bile reflux or my breakfast decides to creep back up?) I was even (irrationally) worried incase a metal object had been accidentally left inside of me during surgery, and would be ripped out during the scan! 🙈 Anxiety is a bitch like that… You get all kinds of irrational thoughts running through your head.
Anyway, the scan itself was fine. My boobs were placed into individual slots and my face into a hole so that I could watch TV – “Poirot” of all things, with Norwegian subtitles. At least it gave me something to focus on! I was even given headphones so that I could listen to the radio, but the sounds of the machine drowned everything out. Instead, I just tried to imagine the weird sounds were some techno bangers and had myself a mini rave!
I received a call 4 days later to inform me that they hadn’t found anything of concern from the MRI, but that they wanted to take some biopsies from the lump that they initially found in January.
On Monday, I went to the hospital for my appointment. Before the procedure, the Doctor explained to me what they were going to do and gave me two shots of local anaesthesia. The first needle stung quite a bit, but it got to work fairly quickly so I didn’t feel the second one, along with the incision they made. Luckily, I didn’t feel the biopsy needle either. I was however, feeling really dizzy and thought I was going to pass out at one point. Not sure if it was caused by anxiety, the local anaesthesia or a combination of the two. After the first biopsy, I looked down and it was a bloodbath! My chest was covered in blood, which only made me feel worse. So for the remainder of my time there, I just made sure to focus on the ceiling. They checked the sample and decided to take a second biopsy just to be sure.
Luckily, the bruising and pain afterwards was very minimal. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I’d seen others with MASSIVE bruises after their biopsies! So now I play the waiting game, one I’ll never get good at and just hope that all is normal and that this is the last of invasive tests for 2018. 🤞🍀