Primrose Foundation

Sophie's Journey

This story outlines the journey experienced by a woman called Sophie, who after finding a lump in her breast, discovers she has cancer

All names have been changed

 

Please remember that every journey through breast cancer is different, but we hope that this story provides an insight into what you might experience at the Primrose Breast Care Centre.

 

“I have found a lump in my breast.”

Sophie notices a lump above the nipple of her left breast one morning when showering. The lump feels hard and it doesn’t hurt.  She thinks that it is probably nothing, but makes an appointment with her GP just to be sure.

 
The GP examines Sophie and asks her whether she is taking medication or if she remembers being bitten or had knocked her breast.  He also asks her whether she is feeling unwell and whether there is a history of breast cancer in her family.
 
The GP then recommends that Sophie visits the Primrose Breast Care Centre at Derriford Hospital for further tests, and arranges for an appointment to be made.
 
 

"My doctor has referred me the Primrose Breast Care Centre.”

 A letter with an appointment arrives the following week with clear instructions on how to get to the centre.  On arrival, Sophie is greeted by a receptionist who confirms her name and additional information. 

Shortly after taking a seat, Sophie is called through to the clinic by a friendly nurse where she is then shown to a chair in a smaller room with a couch and is welcomed by a doctor who introduces himself as Mr. Smith.
 
Sophie is put at ease by Mr. Smith, and they discuss the lump in detail.  Like her GP, he asks her about any breast problems she has had in the past, if she is taking medication and whether she has any other health problems.  She answers ‘no’ to all of these questions.  Mr. Smith examines Sophie with a nurse in the room, and agrees that there is a small lump and that he needs to examine it fully to explain what it is.
 
Mr. Smith informs Sophie that he will carry out a Mammogram and an Ultrasound and he explains what each examination will entail after she asks.  Mr. Smith then asks Sophie to wait in the waiting room once more.  After a short wait, a woman calls to Sophie and introduces herself as Rachel, a Radiologist.  After confirming her details, Sophie is taken to the Mammogram Room where she sees a large machine located in the centre, with a flat black shelf horizontal to the floor and a clear plastic paddle above it. 
 
Although quite apprehensive at first, Sophie is reassured by Rachel, who then asks her to remove her top clothing so that a Mammogram can be taken.  The room is warm and the doors are locked before the pictures are taken which soothes Sophie.
 
The breast is gently squeezed on the plate which is mildly uncomfortable (about the same as having your blood pressure taken) and this happens twice for each breast.  Each view only takes a few seconds and very shortly after, Sophie is putting her clothes back on again and is shown back to the waiting room.
 
Sylvie, a helper in the centre calls to Sophie and guides her to another room where she is introduced to a man called Dr. Jones who will perform the Ultrasound.  Dr. Jones informs Sophie that the Mammogram shows something is not quite right, and an Ultrasound will give them a better understanding.
 
After applying cold jelly on the breast, Dr Jones carries out the Ultrasound and explains that he is concerned about the appearance of the lump and will need to take a small Biopsy for a more thorough analysis.  He does this straight away, using an Anaesthetic gel. Sophie doesn’t feel a thing.
 
Dr. Jones then proceeds to take an Ultrasound of Sophie’s armpit to check for further lumps, and tells her that he can’t see anything that concerns him.
 
Sylvie puts some plasters on Sophie’s breast where the biopsy had been taken and she is guided to the meeting area.
A short while later, Mr. Smith greets Sophie and discusses in detail the next steps.  He asks her to attend the Centre the following week so that they can go through the results on the Biopsy.
 
Mr. Smith then introduces Sophie to a Breast Care Nurse called Cheryl, who reassures Sophie that she will be well looked after. They exchange numbers and Cheryl asks Sophie to call her if she would like someone to talk to, or if she would like any questions answered.
 
Sophie leaves the centre with some information leaflets to read at home.  She feels at ease knowing she could contact Cheryl at any time.  She is not alone.
 
 

“The results have arrived.”

The following week, Sophie attends the centre as planned and is welcomed by Mr. Smith and Cheryl.  He explains to Sophie that the Biopsy has shown a small Breast Cancer. 

Sophie is overwhelmed by many emotions and has a thousand questions running through her head.
 
Mr. Smith explains that they have found her Cancer very early, which is positive.  He discusses with her the options she has for Surgery, and together they decide to remove the lump and a small area of normal tissue around it.  They also decide to carry out surgery on the Lymph Nodes to eradicate any other cancerous cells.  This will be followed by three weeks’ of Radiotherapy Treatment.
 
Two weeks later, the Primrose Breast Care Centre telephones Sophie to arrange a Pre-Assessment Appointment, where they will take some blood tests and swabs.  The appointment took approximately 90 minutes.
 
Sophie receives letters in the post over the following weeks, which explain the date, time and location for her surgery appointment.  She is informed that the surgery might be a ‘Day Case Procedure’, which means that she will be able to go home on the same day, if all goes well.
 
A few days before the operation, Sophie telephones Cheryl to talk over some things that have been worrying her. Cheryl answers Sophie’s questions and helps to put her mind at rest.
 
 

“The Operation.”

On the day of the operation, Sophie arrives at the Centre where she is greeted once again my Mr. Smith and Cheryl.  After signing a consent form, she is introduced to the Anaesthetist called Dr. Long, who talks her through the operation. 

After the operation, Sophie wakes up feeling a little sick, but surprisingly, not very sore.  She has no drains, although Mr. Smith said she might need them.
 
A short while later, Mr. Smith greets Sophie at her bedside once more, and explains that the operation went well and that when she is ready, she can go home to rest.  Sophie’s shoulder feels a little stiff and she is unsteady on her feet.  There is also a lot of dressing covering her left breast.
 
After a rest, Sophie feels ready to go home.  She is given painkiller tablets to take with her should she feel sore or uncomfortable later on.
 
 

“I am now an Outpatient having Radiotherapy.”

A few days later, Sophie receives an Outpatient Appointment letter from the Primrose Breast Care Centre with Mr. Smith.

When the date arrives, Mr. Smith informs Sophie that the lump has been successfully removed and she is prescribed a course of tablets called Tamoxifen.  Sophie is pleased to learn that these tablets should not cause her any ill side effects.
 
Sophie is then directed to the Oncology Ward, where she meets John Williams, a Consultant who will look after her whilst she has Radiotherapy. 
 
Her left breast has Radiotherapy, and the X-Rays are passed through the breast to destroy any remaining cancer cells. 
The Radiotherapy makes her breasts feel a little sore and she likens it to sunburn, however, it settles down quickly after.
 
Throughout the three week period of having Radiotherapy, Sophie feels tired, and is relieved that it is only a short course of treatment every day.
 
 

“I am in remission.”

When the course of Radiotherapy finishes, an appointment is arranged for one year’s time with Mr. Smith.  However, contact and support doesn’t need to end, and Sophie is reminded that she is able to contact any of the nurses, including Cheryl, whenever she needs to.