Neither of my paternal grandparents ever had cancer. Neither of my maternal grandparents ever had cancer. My biological Dad had stomach cancer, but not until he reached the ripe old age of 82 and his 85 year old sister is still alive and cancer free. Two of my Mum’s siblings died of cancer, but they were heavy smokers and it was lung cancer, so it wasn’t exactly a shock. My Mum smoked like a chimney for nearly 60 years but despite having a tumour on her lung it was benign. Two of her siblings are still alive, both in their seventies, and have never had cancer. So, to be honest, even though 1 in 2 of us will get cancer I’ve never really given it a second’s thought because it doesn’t look like it runs in my family and I have none of the lifestyle factors which increase my risk, such as drinking or smoking.
I thought a little bit more about the disease when my maternal cousin got breast cancer aged 60, though she isn’t classed as a close relative and I’ve tested negative for the BRCA gene and when I discovered that MCAS significantly increases the prevalence of certain cancers, including breast cancer, and having endometriosis is also associated with a risk of certain cancers, such as ovary, uterine or cervical. But you never think it will actually happen to you, do you?
The reason I’m prattling on about the Big C is that I had my appointment with the GP today about my armpit lump. I genuinely thought she’d take one look and say “everyone’s armpits are different and it’s nothing to worry about” but she didn’t. She said there is most definitely a lump and it is not a cyst, nor swollen lymph nodes due to infection. In addition, there is also swelling around a second lymph node and some puckering of the skin. She said she couldn’t tell if the lump was an enlarged lymph node or a thickening of the tissue, but that neither should be occurring and it is possible it may be cancer related. I waited for the “or it could be nothing” but it never came, and when she looked at me in sympathy and gently rubbed my back as she guided me out the door my brain screamed very loudly FUCK! and double FUCK!
There are two common types of cancer which could originate in this way: breast cancer, although I have no obvious signs of breast cancer, and lymphoma which I might possibly have signs of. A persistent cough can be a symptom of lymphoma and, as you all know, I’ve been coughing for nearly 3 months. Tummy pain and feeling full are also symptoms and I have been having both in spades, plus fatigue is common.
Soooo, I’ve been referred for an ultrasound and will get an appointment through within the next two weeks. I’m not a big worrier and I’m sure it will turn out to be absolutely nothing, and even if it turns out to be absolutely something worrying won’t cure it, nor will stressing out or getting worked up. I’ll just forget about it until I know for sure what’s happening.