I’m 34 years old, at this age you would think I could get a lump checked without involving my Dad.
My wonderful father who has already been through so much, my beloved Dad who kept me tethered to the earth when 2013 blew up and threatened to rip me from it. You would think I would give him some peace.
I’ve now told A and he has confirmed there is a Lump. He has yet to roll his eyes when I ask at various points throughout the weekend if the Lump feels; smaller, bigger, harder, softer or “just different”. I love him for this. He is being practical, the doctor will confirm what he believes is true, that it is nothing.
I have discussed the Lump with two close girlfriends these conversations are helped by wine. Wine makes me feel braver. We soon move on to other, more cheerful topics.
We all conclude it can’t be anything, it can’t possibly be anything and I won’t tell my Dad until it’s all over. That is the adult thing to do.
I think I last 3 days. I jabber on to him about everything else under sun. If he is bemused as to why I’ve been standing outside Selfridges in the biting wind chatting to him about NOTHING for 20 minutes he doesn’t say. He doesn’t suggest I ring him back later or ask me to get to the point, thank goodness he doesn’t because my only point is to prove how absolutely fine I am.
To give myself credit, I last 2 hours in his actual presence without saying anything but then I do say something and Dad thinks it’s nothing to worry about too.
I shall go to my Doctors and get it sorted.
But now I am worried because my gut is still yelling that something is wrong. In the face of so many loved ones who think the opposite, I wobble. I’ve been here before, the last 3 years robbed me of my sunny optimism and almost my mental health. To put it in West Wing terms, I was a Sam and I slowly became a Toby, but Toby on his darkest days. It cost me, it cost me deeply. I don’t want to be the voice of gloom at this particular party. So I yell back at my gut and all is quiet for a time.
It’s 4.30am and I’ve just sat bolt upright in bed, I raise my left arm above my head and my right hand instinctively lands on a lump. Bullseye.
I don’t know what made me do it. I am not normally awake at this hour. While I do self examine, I tend do so after I’ve showered at a more regular hour. I don’t think it’s divine intervention or some spirit of my dead mother. I’d like to think that it’s my subconscious coming late to the party. Remember the scene in Speed, where Dennis Hopper is looking over black and white video footage, his stumpy hand to his mouth, his howl of fury as he realises that Keanu Reeves has managed to outwit him (like that would ever happen). I like to think my brain has been running over video footage, to be frank I’m so flat chested simply washing is all it would really take, for a day or two when – Boom! It’s remembered it felt something it previously hasn’t. And now I’m awake.
It’s 4.31am and I’ve just found a lump in my left breast. All of a sudden, I’m not alone in my little flat anymore, it’s me and the Lump.
Normally, it’s at this point I’d be nudging A, my boyfriend awake, but he’s in London working. I imagine that he’s probably going to be grateful for that when I tell him about this later and I release my grip on the phone. I am in fact meant to be on a train later today to visit him and several other dear friends. Valentines Day is coming up, we aren’t big celebrators but this is different. A and I will be travelling extensively for the first half of the year, time together feels very precious. But should I be going to the doctor’s instead? I use two fingers to wiggle the Lump – back and forth, back and forth, as I contemplate what to do.
It’s 4.45am and without turning on the light, I’m googling. I’ve my Doctor’s office hours, various Bristol to London timetables, the NHS and Macmillan websites laid out in front of me by 4.55.
By 5am, I’ve learnt I can see my Doctor first thing on Monday, and that lumps in women my age are almost always benign, especially because I have no other symptoms. I comfort myself with this. I try hard not to be a drama queen. I push all other thoughts and what my gut is yelling at me to the back of my mind. I fall back to sleep.
Later that day I head to London where the Lump and I have a really rather fabulous weekend.