It could be something

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.

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24 thoughts on “It could be something

  1. Melanie Odell

    Definitely oh fuck a duck. I do hope it is nothing to worry about. I always say I could give a crap if I get some terminal diagnosis at some point because my life is crap. But, I think I may be singing a different tune if I had two suspicious lumps. Of course it will be impossible not to worry in the next two weeks no matter yow much you try not to. No chance of an infected sweat gland, or lymph node maybe? I have had those in the past and the doc thought they were suspicious lumps at the time? Does the doc you saw understand Mast Cell. Because the puckering and thickened skin could also be your Mast Cell, of course so could enlarged tender, inflammed lymph nodes. Plus the feeling of fullness, and a chronic cough. All classic Mast Cell Symptoms for me at any rate. Lets hope so for you too.

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    1. Jak Post author

      Thanks Melanie. I forgot to include a paragraph on the increased risk of certain cancers when you have MCAS, so I’ve now added that!

      My GP said definitely not infection-related – the lump is attached to the muscle wall and the muscle wall itself is thickened, not the skin. Time will tell! x

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    1. Melanie Odell

      Me either about increasing the risk of certain Cancers. But it does not surprize me as it seems to be linked to hundreds of horrid diseases.

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  2. Lindsay

    Well, shit. No one wants to be told it could be the “c” word, even if the chance is low. I’m sorry, Jak. I hope it turns out to be nothing. Please keep us updated!

    I had no idea mast cell increases the significance of cancers! Thanks for linking to the article about it – I’m interested in reading it.

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    1. Jak Post author

      Systemic mast cell disease increases the risk of breast cancer by up to 30%! I guess any kind of chronic, systemic inflammatory process won’t do your body much good x

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  3. Crew Dog

    Well, that sucks! I often think that if I got cancer on top of everything else it would be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Sending up prayers that 1) you get a timely & accurate diagnosis, 2) whatever you have is no big deal, and 3) you have peace of mind in the meantime.

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  4. Elaine Stammers

    Just wanted to say that though I don’t comment often, Jak, I do read your blog regularly. I am in awe of what you have achieved and do achieve, in your life. I think you have already been dealt a very difficult hand in life, so if fairness had anything to do with life, (which I know it doesn’t!) this will turn out to be nothing serious.

    Whatever, I will be thinking of you and hope that the tests will move swiftly as they have promised you and that (despite what you have experienced recently re the NHS and your father) you get the best that the NHS can offer you. I am 66 and have seen both good and bad in my life time – they are not good with chronic illness, that’s for sure, but 5 times in the past 10 years they have given me sight saving eye surgery (3 as an emergency) and if it were not for this I would be blind so I hope you get to experience the good from them this time round too.

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    1. Jak Post author

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment Elaine 🙂 I agree, the NHS can be brilliant with some things and were excellent when my Mum had suspected cancer. As you say, though, not quite so great with anything chronic like my Dad’s issue. Jak x

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  5. init72

    Sending you a big (((HUG))) You are so right – worrying about not knowing will cause flare ups and make you poorly so you have a good attitude towards the whole thing – Thank you for the info as I had no idea of the increased significance of cancer with Mast Cells etc so will read further and learn more and you have us behind you all the way for support, just as you support us with this amazing blog xxxx

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    1. Jak Post author

      Really appreciate the hug – I don’t get them in ‘real life’, well except off the dog and that usually involves lots of slaver and bad breath 😀 Jak x

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  6. melody

    Yes, lots of positive energy from me to you, too, Jak–and hope you’ve just got more misleading MCAD sorts of symptoms–seems like there’s a long parade of those it might be.

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    1. Jak Post author

      Yep, I’m banking on it being an MCAD thing Melody as I’ve had a big flare of MCAD symptoms this year for some reason. Fingers crossed x

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  7. Melanie Odell

    Hi Jak. I spent several hours reaseaerching last night MACS and Cancer. And it was fascinating. What it comes down is a very comlicated process that docs don’t really understand and cannot really agree on the meaning of the mechanism, but at the end of the day what appears to form is a list of cancers that are helped by activated mast cells and those that are hindered by the degranulation of mast cells and the heparin produced. All the research i read has breast and ovarian cancer coming down on the side of the list that are actually helped by mast cell activation. Meaning that the activated mast cells actually hinder these tumors grow. They don’t prevenent them from forming in the first place, but once they do, they greatly hinder them from growing, therefore greatly increaease the overall prognosis if you should get diagnosed with one of these awful diseases. But i sure hope you do not have to worry about life after diagnosis though meaning, i sure hope this is a false alarm for you.!. It certainly is a noticeable lump, as I can plainly see buy your posted pic. I did also research lipomas and muscle involment. And some benign lipomas are deep enough to involve muscle thickening. But a scenond lipoma at the same site, also involving muscle I could I could find no info on. Sorry. I will try again though. Fingers and toes crossed for you here though. Good luck, try for not to many scary thoughts, and many good vibes being sent from me to you. I will keep researching.

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    1. Jak Post author

      That’s so kind of you Melanie to go to all the trouble of researching cancers with MCAD – I don’t have the energy or brain function!

      Still waiting for a date for my scan – I should know more after that. Jak x

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  8. thatotherjean

    Ugh. I hope your doctor’s first impressions are wrong, and it’s something benign. If it’s not, I wish you courage for yourself, wisdom and skill for your doctors, and the best possible outcome of your treatment. And luck. And a hug or six, if you’d like them.

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  9. Melanie Odell

    I love your photography. You are amazing. Really, really stellar. I especially like the photograph “Evening Rain”. I cannot imagine any club not considering you a highly prized gem in their midst.

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    1. Jak Post author

      That’s so kind of you, thanks Melanie 🙂 Put it this way, 2 of the bitches involved are in the beginner’s class (one has been there for ten years now!) and the other is in the intermediate. Whereas I’m in advanced class, teach the beginner’s class, have 3 distinctions, a couple of international gold medals, have been exhibited in a London gallery, am a judge, guest speaker at other clubs and teach both software and technique to the Club – they’re gonna miss me when I’m gone 😉

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      1. Melanie Odell

        I can see how your work has been exhibited in a gallery. That is exactly where I can see it. It is definitely gallery quality. It is quite simply beautiful. I imagine those bitches may be jealous of your incredible talent. Jealousy makes people so ugly to one another. And of course they would not stop for one moment to think of the suffering you have to live with, but only be jealous of your talent.

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