Friday, March 9, 2012

Post mash up: children, life, cancer scares and stress

Warning: Pity Party Alert.

Earlier this week I wrote a post called 'I love my kids, but I hate my life'.  Then I started another called 'The cancer lottery, or how to queue jump in the public health system'.  Now they're both mixed together....

Today is the day of the job interview.  My first in two years.  It's a full-time job and I'm afraid that the kids will suffer if I go back to work full-time, but I'm also afraid that depression will strike if I have to be a stay-at-home-carer for ever.  I adore my kids, but not all the ways in which they've changed my life.

Being Angel's Mum was easy.   We did everything together.  We were always out: shopping, cycling, visiting people and places.  Not any more.  I don't really hate my life, most days, but  being stuck in the house is something that I find very hard to accept.  I also miss the feedback and interaction of the office.  If I don't sweep the floor, who cares?  And you wonder why I have a blog?

So I continue to look for work.  But it seems that every time I find something suitable, life puts roadblocks in the way.

I've a 20 year history of finding lumps in places where no lump should be, and I've been for mammograms, surgery, biopsies, the lot, and luckily all the lumps were found to be benign, and I've been free of them for a few years.

But just after Christmas I found another one.  I was fed up, but not too worried as I'd heard great things about the new State-run Breast Health Clinics.  They are supposed to be fast, efficient, patient-friendly and caring.  Even the waiting rooms were described as "plush", by a friend of mine who'd attended, and this I did find to be true.

However when my appointment arrived it was for the end of February.  Six weeks away.

And so I waited.  It seemed a very long time.  I was okay at first, but began to feel wobbly towards the end.  This wasn't the service I'd expected, but perhaps a waiting list had developed due to demand and cutbacks.

Then on the day I was devastated to discover that my appointment was NOT for a mammogram as I had assumed, but for another examination.   A further date would be sent out to me by letter.  I struggled through the weekend with my brother over visiting from Wales, but by Monday I was distraught and rang the clinic.  No answer and no returned call.  On Wednesday I was about to ring again when the post arrived.  Worse news.  Another 6 week wait and a further 6 weeks until I would receive the results.  I couldn't believe it.

A conversation later in the day confirmed that everyone else I know who has found a lump in the past while has been seen and got the results within a couple of weeks.  I know that patients are seen in order of priority, and it is likely that I am absolutely fine, but 2 weeks against almost five months?  When there could be something wrong?  I am being told to wait far longer  than the women on the Breast Check programme for the over 50s, even though they may be just a few months older than me and may have no lumps.  

So I rang the clinic.  They listened, and I am now going in next week for the mammogram.  But I could still be waiting a while for any non-urgent results.  And I still feel pretty low.

I can't get my head around the fact that this could all have been done and dusted in January.

So I cancelled the job interview.

There it's done, I've got it off my chest.

If only.


Important lessons from this post

I don't know what went wrong, but I suggest that if you find a lump you should do the following:

1. Tell your doctor to say it's urgent in the referral letter.

2. Make sure he requests the triple test to take place on the same day as the examination.

3. Make sure he says you're distraught and cannot cope with the fear of cancer.

4. If you're given an appointment and you think the wait is too long, ring the clinic and tell them.


5. Tell all your friends.  Get advice.  Perhaps if I had spoken to more people I wouldn't be in this position now. 

28 comments:

  1. Having had Cancer I totally relate to this post. I had a lump that went ignored for 6 months while I did the rounds of the doctors at my local surgery. By the time it was caught, I was 3 months pregnant. The stress the waiting causes must contribute to the illness, I am 100% positive about that.

    The good news is that I am now nearly 21 years clear of the Big C.

    I hope you get your results soon and that they are all telling you that the lump is benign.

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  2. That's great advice Candi. I hope everything goes well for you.That's terrible having to wait so long. Sorry you had to cancel your interview again!! Hopefully something better is waiting for you. XX

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  3. @lyndylou - having cancer and being pregnant so young must have been terrifying, no wonder you are always so positive now xx

    @Jackie B - Thanks so much for commenting and I hope you never need the advice xx

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  4. My goodness, no wonder you are struggling at the moment - the mental anguish must be exhausting - waiting for clinics and investigations and results. The irish system doesn't sound like the best- it's so unfortunate that you almost have to learn how to work the system to get an appointment. The advice you have given though is invaluable.
    And so for the work thing-well that's a whole other story... take care x

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  5. I dont know what to say. You know my story. Im so sorry you are going through this. Hopefully all will be clear. No wonder its been a nightmare for you. Never mind about the interview, its a pity, but you need to look after you.

    Aud xx

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  6. @hopeful mammy - yes having to work the system is unfair and annoying x

    @Aud - I really really appreciate your comment xx

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  7. Oh boy, no wonder you have had a terrible week.....
    Sending you lots of positive thoughts and sincerely hoping that your mammogram is clear.

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  8. Hiya
    Good luck with the mammogram & the results and thanks for the advice though I hope I never have to use it. I got great advice from an ex- buddhist nun one time when I asked about a difficult mental state. I expected her to say, stay with the moment, be gentle with it, expand the view/open the heart, all that blah, but she told me sometimes you just have to distract yourself until it goes away. That's probably common sense to you but for complicated reasons, for me, it was great to hear it from someone who was very strict with herself about lots of things. So lots of nice distractions while u wait for the results if that works for you. I can help u out with some telly box sets if that would help. And fuck the job interview ( excuse the f- word), Really. You 'd have done it if you were up to it.
    @deeblake7

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  9. Good advice
    Thinking of you

    Hope the stress passes soon

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  10. So sorry to hear you're going through this. I understand some of your anxiety. I had problems a few years ago and had to have a mammogram and ultrasound. Thankfully things were OK. I just have more dense tissue in one side than the other. But it was a hugely stressful experience. Thinking of you. Deb xx

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  11. You bless you love, how crappy they made you wait so long. Glad you are getting seen next week and I hope they give you a prompt answer.

    Sorry to hear you had to cancel the interview, I trust the right one will come along for you at the right time.

    Sending you a massive hug. Mich x

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  12. @Di - I'm sure that everything will be okay

    @Dee - thanks so much for commenting. And that was one wise nun. Luckily my kids are an enormous distraction, they don't give me too much time to dwell on stuff x

    @Suburbia - thank you, and I hope you never need it

    @Deb - I'm very glad that you're okay xx

    @Mich - thank you x

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  13. Heartbreaking to read this - that life has once more thrown you a very upsetting curve ball when you were starting to move forward.
    Sure you'll be seen and you'll be fine.
    But so worrying to hear how long it can take to be seen - unless you make a fuss.
    I honestly think the British way, of being polite and waiting your turn, doesn't always work.
    Know another Mum who was unable to sleep and worried sick by a lump in her breast - which turned out to be nothing. She was told she'd be seen in 2 weeks - and 6 weeks later was still waiting. She had to go to her GP and collapse in tears before anyone took any notice.
    Then she was seen for quick exam - and the hospital tried to send her home for another long wait. Luckily she refused and kicked up a massive fuss, so got a mammogram then and there.
    Unfortunately it seems you've got to shout and keep shouting to get noticed and receive the attention you deserve.

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  14. I'm thinking of you. Sending warm thoughts, hugs and a big dose of my impatience in the hopes that things move faster than you posted. Grr. Sometimes the paperwork of the medical system makes it most ineffective. I have heard the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Have you ever thought of being that squeaky wheel? Or would that just make matters worse???

    Thinking of you.

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  15. My heart goes out to you hon. So many times you have lifted my spirits with your courage and your wry sense of humour. Today I am thinking of you and sending you my warmest love and have fingers, toes and teeth crossed for your health and happiness! Have been there too, it's just a matter of getting through it, and you will, because we are all rooting for you on all fronts:~) X

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  16. Good advice but I'm SO annoyed that you had to find out the hard way. This is SO not on. relieved you're finally getting he appointment you need. Fingers crossed.

    I understand what you're saying about working....try not to put too much pressure on yourself though;-) Sometimes we long for what we once were able to do ...but may find we can no longer do it anyway ;-)We find other ways of achieving our aims!

    xx Jazzy

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  17. Good luck for the tests and don't worry about the job interview. The right job will come along when the time is right for you. In the meantime you must look after yourself. Lots of love xxx

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  18. @Donna - I agree with you completely, often it is those who stand up for themselves who get the best treatment, and it shouldn't be that way. The system should be fairer, but I guess that's human nature.

    @Lizbeth - I am also impatient and I was a bit squeaky :)

    @Foxglovelane - Aww thank you, I'm sure it will all be ok, just have to grit my teeth to get through the next few weeks x

    @Jazzygal - I know you are right, especially about the working thing. Really the full-time job idea was probably quite mad, and might have ended in tears xx

    @Midlifesinglemum - Thank you, I must MUST lean patience :)

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  19. I had to come and see why you were being a grump... and yaah, owkaaay, you had very good reason. I (obviously) hope that nothing comes of the lump, but I think your lessons learnt apply to many more situations in the NHS than just mammograms. Inportant information shared, thank you, and I hope you find some work that appeals soon x

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  20. I'm so sorry to read all you are going through at the moment. I hope it all works out OK x

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  21. Jobs come and go, but without your health you can't work or look after your family. Be kind to yourself and make sure you are well and healthy. Get lots of sleep, even if you have to nap in the day (I do sometimes!)
    When you are ready to look at jobs again, maybe just go for part-time. I do part-time from home so I can still be here if the kids are off.

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  22. @Renata - And I really appreciate that you visited x

    @Val - I'm sure it will, it's just the unnecessary stress that's so annoying x

    @Tania - I think I should stick to looking for part-time work: that's what I was doing before.

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  23. I'm so sorry you've been through this - I wish I had know and, I'll say it again, I wish we lived closer! Coffee, cakes and a cuddle would have ben on the menu.

    You probably know from my blog that my Mum has had breast cancer twice - resulting in a double mastectomy. Thankfully she found the lumps early. Even thought you've had to wait it sounds to me like you've found the lump early so I'm sure it will be okay.

    Great advice though.

    Hope the appointment goes well. Big hugs xxx

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  24. @SAHMlovingit - Thank you, I love all of those, and I'm just back from the clinic, where the provisional results look fine xxx

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  25. Thanks for this advice, it's always worth spreading the word. Sorry I missed this post and hearing that you were having a down time - sure I could have cracked a joke for you as it's nearly Easter (cracked... egg... geddit?!!). Happy as I've read your latest post before this one :-)

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  26. @Steph - thanks for making me smile :)

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  27. Oh my goodness..That is just..it is awful. The waiting..the worry. I am sorry that you had to go through this..I do hope it all goes fast for you..

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  28. @kathleen - Thanks for commenting on this post. The whole system made no sense to me at all, if there had been something wrong 5 months is way to long to leave it...

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