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Chapter 1: I found a lump

Wednesday, 27 Jan 2010

Just before we were due to move, I found - what seemed to me - a rather large lump in the left side of my left breast. I check for lumps whenever I remember to, about every 2-3 months, when I am in the shower or in bed.

The lump was unmistakable. I didn't tell Frank immediately. I thought about it for a while and then went into his study.


Frank was laughing about something he was reading online. I felt really bad that I was about to tell him something that would remove the happy smile from his face and that would change both our lives from that point on. The moment reminded me of the story he'd told me about the night his father died.

When Frank was in his 20s, his father - a heavy smoker - had been taken to hospital with emphysema; it's a progressive disease of the lung that primarily causes shortness of breath. The phone rang late at night. It was the hospital to say that he'd died. Frank decided not to wake his mum but to let her sleep, knowing that it'd be the last proper sleep she'd have in a while. But, of course, he couldn't sleep. When she woke up at 7am, he told her. She cried for her husband every day for a year.


I didn't know what to tell Frank and so I pointed to my breast; I asked him to feel where I was pointing and to tell me what he thought. He looked bemused and prodded and then frowned and looked concerned. I don't remember what we said to each other.

I called my local GP surgery and asked for an appointment as soon as possible with a female doctor. I couldn't get one that day but was given an appointment at 7:30am the following morning - the removal men were due to arrive at 8:30am.


Sadly, I remembered only today - a month later - that I felt a much smaller lump (about a centimeter) a couple of  months earlier in the same place. I had felt around and figured it was just part of the normal internals.

It didn't occur to me to re-check later; I must have convinced myself there and then that it wasn't anything to be concerned about.

I wish I'd told Frank and done something about it then.  :-(

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