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

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Having an ovary removed at 21 – My Story

Laparoscopic right salpingo oophorectomy – I believe that is the “medical term” for it, and on the 08/11/2018 the NHS gave me my very own experience of it.

I should probably take this time to say how grateful I am for the NHS, and how amazing the staff who work for the NHS are, from the paramedics to the porters, HCAs to surgeons… 
every single one made my journey bearable and I am eternally grateful.

I’ve posted previously about my battles with endometriosis and PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and on the 18/10/2018, my consultant and I came to the mutual agreement that it was time to say adios to my right ovary and fallopian tube (the worst out of my two ovaries, as over time my left ovary has been rather kind to me over the years).

However the week of the 01/11/2018 I had a pretty aggressive flare up, it was starting and stopping but I dismissed it, after all… I have no time to be ill, between work and my son, a trip up A&E would never fit into my schedule, as the week progressed friends urged me to go to hospital but in my stubbornness I declined (because I was clearly handling the situation so, so well). I think I mentioned to the mummykind girls all week how the pain was p*****g me off and I didn’t have time for it, as well as to Char and a friend by the nickname of Moody.

Saturday the 3rd came and I was on a half day at work, I remember going into work snappy, tired and with barely any energy where the pain was getting worse. Char and Moody had both had enough at this point with Char taking on the maternal role and telling me I needed to call someone and I believe Moody’s words were ” then stop f*****g moaning about it and go to the hospital” – bit harsh but had a point. Looking back perhaps everyone was right, If I listened and dealt with the situation properly rather than sticking my head in the sand, I might not have needed my elective surgery brought forward.

That afternoon I got home and the pain had got so severe I was on the sofa crying, I couldn’t sit up was just scrunched up with a hot water bottle (this was after taking my oramorph – oral morphine). I rang 111 who sent an ambulance, then after a trip to A&E, the on-call gynaecologist did an internal examination of my ovaries.

Worst.
Experience.
Ever.

I remember letting out this high pitched yelp as she said “hmm well it doesn’t feel twisted but I think I can feel a cyst, your ovary felt very bulky” she patted my arm and said she would admit me and book me for a scan.

The pain got more intense and more severe, and my blood pressure dropped as a result. I had an ultrasound the next day with two sonographers who did both an external and internal scan but wouldn’t tell me much, they just said there was lots of free fluid and that my right ovary was bulky. As they spoke in hushed tones I was left unsure of what was going on.

The next day I was greeted by a familiar face, my consultant. The man who had carried out all my gynecological procedures since I was 16. “Hello Amy, how’re you,” he greeted. “I have reviewed the scan, and I think the best thing to do now is bring your surgery forward, I have scheduled it for Thursday, however if you get worse it will be an emergency procedure.”

It became a waiting game, friends from work visited, mummykind friends visited and kept me entertained with gossip and laughter. The night before the operation Harriet even came up to help me wash my hair and shave my legs, and I put my new nighty on from Charlie… I was ready. My ex had brought Oliver up to see me, as we agreed he would have Oliver for the next week where I wouldn’t be able to  lift and needed to recover.

The day of my operation arrived and I was a bag of nerves. A friend visited in the morning with knickers and pads for me but after she left the reality hit me, I was on my own.  I would have nobody holding my hand as I went down to theatre and nobody waiting for me when I was out, this was something I had to face and deal with on my own.

As I got wheeled down to the prep room by two theatre assistants, one who was a very bubbly man and could tell I was anxious. I could feel myself panicking, the anaesthetist who I had met previously greeted me and the first thing he asked me to do was to slow my breathing down, I could feel myself going into a panic attack but I couldn’t stop it, I had no control.

The anaesthetsist said to me “How old is your son Amy? Who’s with him at the minute?” As I replied I didn’t realise those questions were him calming me. He made me talk about the one thing that could shift my focus, then he said, “okay Amy, I’ve just given you a strong painkiller so you might feel a bit drowsy but that’s fine,” and I felt myself sinking, and no matter how hard I tried to fight it… I lost.

I woke up in recovery and completely freaked out, I tried pulling things off and sitting up, then started crying for literally no apparent reason, however my previous surgeries had taught me anaesthetic makes me really emotional and
teary. The recovery nurse was sweet, she helped me sip water and gave IV morphine where I was tender.

A week on and I’m back at work, I’m still sore and not completely over the mental side of it, whether it was planned or not the reality is my right ovary and tube is gone and over years it is likely my left will go too. The reality has hit me that Oliver is likely to be my only child, and I lost so much time with him as a newborn due to postpartum psychosis that I’m scared I won’t get that chance again. However, if having my right ovary removed gives me a better quality of life then that is something I need to be grateful for and come to terms with. I’ve also discovered that phantom pain is so real and so, so weird. I can feel normal period cramps on my left side however my brain still associates pain with the right hand side, despite the fact there is nothing there, but I am only 1 week post-op so prehaps I need to give myself some more credit as I am already back at work.

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