WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS GROSS DESCRIPTORS. DO NOT READ WHILST EATING BREAKFAST
Yesterday, I had my first breast surgeon appointment since my discharge from hospital. Part of me felt like there wasn’t really much for us to chat about, having just escaped 4 days ago. However, it came at a really good time. It was my first weekend on my own and on Sunday I had started to imagine a) there was fluid build-up in my right boob and b) my right nipple was definitely dead and about to fall off.
My sensible side realised that both of these options was unlikely but I was looking forward to getting some reassurance.
My post-op nipples
My poor post op nipples haven’t looked great. I have been assured this is perfectly normal and they do tend to get dinged in the surgery process, forming a blister or scab that will eventually drop off to reveal a healthy nipple.
My left nipple on my preferred boob (preferred because it was 2cm higher than the right breast, a better shape, was never biopsied and didn’t get an infection) had a little scab on the bottom of the nipple. In proportion it was a little like Tasmania to Australia, or Anglesey to Wales.
My right nipple however on my rubbish boob (rubbish because it was more saggy, had been biopsied, was home to an infection, and something else I’ll tell you about in a minute) was complete scab. Yes, my whole nipple was a scab. Imagine if you will a total eclipse of the sun. That was the scab on my nipple and the reason why I repeatedly believed it was about to drop off.
A surgeon with a scalpel
I arrive at my breast surgeon appointment, take my top off, lie on the bed and the next thing I see is my surgeon going to the cupboard to grab a scalpel.
He goes back to my nipples. I don’t really want to look and I can’t feel a thing as all my nerves are dead so I ask him, “what are you doing?” To which he replies “oh just taking the scabs off your nipples”.
Oh well, that’s OK then.
The left side. Simples. Pops off with little persuasion.
The right side. Even before he goes to tackle the total eclipse of the nipple I’m feeling nervous. He takes the scalpel to the scab and assures me that the skin under the scab looks healthy and pink. Reassured by these words I decide to sneak a peak when he goes to get something else from the cupboard. URGH. My eclipse scab is lying to the side of my now, bloody right nipple. Vomit. Thank god he got a plaster and dressed it up because my stomach couldn’t handle any more.
Time bomb tits
Dressed and scab free we return to his desk where he gives me my pathology report, which is the analysis of my removed breast tissue.
Again, the lovely left side had no abnormalities to note.
My rubbish right side however had a couple of warning signs. There was a 3mm fibroadenoma that I already knew about as I had a biopsy needle injected into 4 times it about 12 months ago. Fibroadenoma’s are lumps composed of fibrous and glandular tissue.” Unlike typical lumps from breast cancer, fibroadenomas are easy to move, with clearly defined edges.” OK, job done.
What was also there was an atypical ductal hyperplasia. My surgeon described this to me as “proof that it was on the turn.”
Oh, right. So I came home and Googled it and found this description. “Atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH) is not breast cancer, but is considered a precancerous condition… If you’ve been diagnosed with atypical ductal hyperplasia, your risk of developing breast cancer is 4 to 5 times the average lifetime risk.”
Combine this with my BRCA2 stats and the way I see it, Rubbish right boob was just waiting to make its move. Whether that be in one year, 5 years or 10 and thank god it hadn’t started already. So no, I didn’t need confirmation that I had done the right thing, but with these odds even I’d place a bet and I can’t gamble for toffee.