Two weeks ago, I posted that I had my second annual post-surgery mammogram and that the medics had found no signs of cancer. That was the truth, but a slightly economical version of it.
They found no signs of cancer on the day. The consultant's rather firm poking and prodding had found no lumps, and a cursory glance at the mammogram had shown nothing of concern either. However, a mammogram is not done and dusted until the proper specialist has had a good squint at it afterwards, looking intently for any cause for concern.
And so it was that last week, I got a phone call from the hospital asking me to come in today for a follow-up scan. In the days following, this was followed by a letter, another phone call and three text messages. They were certainly keen that I bring my boobs to the hospital today, and despite my usual nonchalance about the lemons that life might throw at my melons, I didn't sleep too well last night.
Today, I left the TUC Disabled Workers' Committee meeting early (having had a good sound-off about various items), and took myself to Homerton hospital. Once there, it was a routine that I am well used to by now - the basket, the gown, the cubicle, and then another mammogram.
It turns out that the suspicious apparition on the first mammogram was in my left boob, perhaps jealous of the attention that the right one has received over the last couple of years. The radiographer hoisted the aforementioned boob onto the machine and asked politely if she might draw on it. Of course I agreed, so she brandished her pen. I had expected some special medical boob-writing quill, but it was a regular newsagent fibre-tip, remarkably smilar to the one I had been using to fill in the crossword in the waiting room.
This time, they needed to take a closer look, which meant that they needed to squeeze my boob much tighter than previously. Once it was (finally) in position, the transparent plate was lowered on top of it, then down some more, some more, and some more, until what had previously looked like a loaf of bread dough on a table now looked more like a pancake.
This was repeated some half-dozen times until they had a whole gallery of snapshots of my left breast. During this process, I had been required to stand at some rather odd angles and actually, it did hurt. I even squealed a bit. Still, all in the line of duty.
A word to the NHS: You need bigger mammogram machines. Perhaps not for everyone, but certainly for some of us.
Mammogram done, I was then whisked off to the ultrasound room and another familiar procedure. This time, the specialist who had spotted the cause for concern was carrying out the scan, so I asked her to tell me exactly what was going on and fortunately, she obliged. Really, after the last two-and-a-bit years, no-one needs to worry about giving me bad news or scary information. I'd rather know.
There was a small shadow in the shape of two circles on the mammogram that hadn't been there the year before, so we had to have a good ultrasonic look at it to find out what it was. If it turned out to be suspicious then the next step would be the dreaded biopsy.
The expertly-guided, gel-covered, hand-held scanner slid around and pressed into my breast as I watched its progress on the screen. As TV shows go, it had a lot of suspense but not much character development and rubbish dialogue. Still, the scenery was fascinating, and the commentary very informative.
Then it appeared, Between the blood vessels, ducts and fat cells, there was a dark round thing. And next to it, another one. The fantastic news was that they were lymph nodes, of normal size, just getting on with doing their job. Worry over. No need fro the dreaded biopsy aka staple gun.
In celebration, the doc showed me the mammogram pictures on her large monitor. Not boasting or anything, but my boob looks like a planet. Best of all, a cancer-free planet.
See you next year, she said.