Why I’m opting for risk reducing surgery at 22

As women we are constantly told to check our breasts… admittedly I try to when I can but normally it is at the bottom of my to-do list, plus I always wondered… at 22 do I REALLY need to check? I guess after recent events it’s safe to say, yes. Back in May, I started noticing some discomfort in my left breast but I dismissed it… after all one of the many perks of being a woman is that our breasts just hurt sometimes due to hormonal changes.

A few weeks went by and following the discomfort I began noticing some discharge from my left nipple, it was blood-stained but for some reason I ignored it, completely dismissed it. I had a little feel and lo and behold there was a lump, so after sticking my head in the sand for a little bit I went to see my GP who examined it. They advised me they were not too happy with it so referred me to the breast screening team as a 2 week urgent referral.

2 weeks of stress passed and I met the specialist, she had a feel, discussed my symptoms and my family history and said she thinks there may be something called a “papilloma” and wanted to arrange an ultrasound but reassured me it was nothing to worry about…after all I am only 22.

My ultrasound came and was admittedly the worst point of this whole situation. The sonographer was rude and blunt. She looked at me while laying there, (rather exposed) and said “right well where is this supposed lump?” She then proceeded to blame my nipple piercing… wrong… so wrong.

I then saw a consultant who spoke to me about the situation, and it was a bit like de ja vu. She advised me she she too felt there were maybe 2 or 3 papillomas causing the lumps and discharge. She discussed something called a “Hadfields procedure” and wanted to refer me to the breast surgeon.

I went away and did my reasearch.

“An intraductal papilloma is a wart-like lump that develops in one or more of the milk ducts in the breast. It’s usually close to the nipple, but can sometimes be found elsewhere in the breast. Intraductal papilloma is a benign (not cancer) breast condition. Some people who have multiple intraductal papillomas may also have a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer. “

https://breastcancernow.org/information-support/have-i-got-breast-cancer/benign-breast-conditions/intraductal-papilloma

A Hadfields procedure is an operation carried out to disconnect and remove the major nipple ducts and some breast tissue. This will take approximately 20 minutes and is usually undertaken under a general anaesthetic (you are asleep). – https://www.royalberkshire.nhs.uk/patient-information-leaflets/Breast%20unit%20Hadfields%20procedure.htm

The day came where I met with the surgeon, 11/12/2019 and she agreed as a risk reducing procedure it was beneficial to do the Hadfields procedure, taking into account that there is a family history of breast cancer. Of all things to ask, I asked the surgeon: “Will there be a visible difference? Will people notice part of my left breast is gone?” She smiled sweetly and advised; “providing you wear padded bras then no, but if you were topless or intimate with someone it would be obvious, yes.” So I nodded, signed all the forms and left. It didn’t really hit me straight away, and I still don’t think the full extent of it has hit me.

24 hours on and I’ve been crying in random bouts. I have an untold amount of questions but obviously this is the best outcome, as it stands at present. Two lumps are benign and by having them removed it is reducing a huge risk of them ever changing which papillomas have a tendency to do. If there is one thing I have taken from all of this, it is the importance of checking your breasts, and reporting any changes to your GP.

I’m sure I’ll write the outcome of the surgery once I have had it, but for now it’s time to accept what is going to happen.

Have you been through anything similar? I would love if you could share your experiences with me

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Have you checked your lemons, melons or mangos? 

How many of us ladies can honestly say that we check ourselves out frequently? When did you last check? I know that we’re not quite as bad as the boys at checking ourselves… But I am very aware that I personally only ever used get round to doing it when I get reminded by online campaigns

CHECK. YOUR BOOBS png

As it is breast cancer awareness week, I thought i’d share my scare experience with our readers in the hope that it might encourage some of you to get checked out, if you’re having any breast related worries!

A few months ago, I finally made the big step in getting myself checked out after having a boobie scare. Why am I telling you lucky lot about it?! Because changes to our breasts honestly need to be spoken about more!

How many of us ladies can honestly say that we check ourselves out frequently? When did you last check? I know that we’re not quite as bad as the boys at checking ourselves… But I am very aware that I personally only ever used get round to doing it when I get reminded by online campaigns etc.

I saw the image above, on Facebook and decided that it was time to confront one of the changes I had noticed since having Florence nearly a year and a half ago. I knew that changes in your breasts and breast tissue was very common after large hormonal changes, like having a baby, but worried because I had a mark that looked like a cross between what these two lemons depicted…

Lovely I know,  but I have no time to blush when I’m here to inform! 

 

I called up my local doctors practice and asked for an appointment to discuss a concern I had with one of my breasts. I was told that as no female doctors were in and that there wasn’t a chaperone available, that I’d have to wait for the duty doctor to call me the following day and book me in, to see a lady. I said that as I was so concerned, I didn’t mind who I discussed my worries with but that I’d prefer to be checked over by a female when I came to practice.

Sure enough, the duty doctor called me the very next morning. I explained my worries over the phone and put me down for an appointment to see a lady doctor for less than an hour later. So off I went!

She asked me what my concerns where and tried to make me feel comfortable before instructing me to remove my upper layers and lye down on the examination table to be checked over. She checked my nipples, breast, armpits and even commented on how my glands felt perfectly normal.

The changes that I had been so worried about, was slight scar tissue, all caused by to me trying to breast feed and pump for almost two months with no supply. She told me that this was nothing to worry about but well worth getting checked out.

I am so relived that my scare was down to nothing more sinister and felt pleased that I had finally been brave enough to seek some help and advice for my worries.

The doctor explained how I could check myself and said that either in the shower, bath, lying or sitting down in bed whilst relaxed would be the perfect time to check myself and to try and do it as frequently as possible (but to aim for once a week!).

How do you check yourself? 

Strictly speaking, there is no right or wrong way to check your breasts. It is so important to know what your breasts usually look and feel like. Then you’ll be more likely to spot any changes quickly and get help from to your GP.

The NHS state that a good way check yourself is to “Look at your breasts and feel each breast and armpit, all the way up to your collarbone. You may find it easiest to do this in the shower or bath, by running a soapy hand over each breast and up under each armpit.
You can also look at your breasts in the mirror. Look with your arms by your side and also with them raised.”

So- when should we seek help or advice from a GP? If you experience any of the following symptoms make sure you book to see your GP as soon as possible…

  • a change in size or shape
  • a lump or area that feels thicker than the rest of the breast
  • a change in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling (like the skin of an orange)
  • redness or rash on the skin and/or around the nipple
  • your nipple has become inverted (pulled in) or looks different in any way.
  • liquid or any discharge that comes from the nipple without squeezing.
  • pains or pangs in your breast or your armpit
  • a swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone.

Any of these changes could be down to normal bodily hormonal changes like puberty, pregnancy, labour, breast feeding or menopause- but please, if anything is new or is worrying you, GET CHECKED OUT…

Useful links-

NHS information about Breast Cancer.
Breast Cancer Care Org

Thank you for reading!
(Please remember that you can never be too safe!)