The thing I had dreaded for years happened. I was recalled after a routine mammogram.
Some of my dear friends have received the same letter, and after recheck have been diagnosed with breast cancer. I also know that many women are invited for further checks, and sent home with reassurance that all is well. I actually had a premonition that I would be recalled, and although shocked to see the green letter (denoting a problem I feared) I was quite calm. I tried to stay positive, and succeeded I think, but as my husband and I drove into the hospital car park my stomach started to churn. Would this be the beginning of a change in my life? The fear started to creep in. We had trouble parking, and so arrived at the department just in time.
As soon as I walked through the door I received impeccable and exemplary attention. The receptionist was warm, smiling and kind. She went out of her way to direct me to the waiting room, and I instantly felt reassured. There were three other couples in the waiting area, all staring at the TV in the corner. I got out my knitting (Christmas presents!) and started to focus on being calm and strong. After 10 minutes I was called into a treatment room by Rachel, who quietly and carefully told me why I had been asked to come for further checks, and she showed me by mammogram images. A tiny small area of concern had been highlighted and that was the problem. Rachel was so very considerate and reassuring. She gave me the most appropriate care, and helped me to relax. I had a further structured mammogram, then an ultrasound scan. With the help of lovely assistant Heather, Dr Ahmed carried out the scan, and after formally introducing himself and shaking my hand he performed the task sensitively and at all times maintained my dignity. I am shy, so this procedure made me feel anxious. After checking my lymph nodes carefully, he informed me that the tests were clear, and that there was nothing to worry about.
With eyes full of tears, I thanked Dr Ahmed and Heather, and gave them feedback on their positive attitude and approach, explaining how it had helped minimise my fears.
On the way home (with an equally relieved husband) I reflected on this brief but important and potentially life-changing experience, and I felt and still feel enormously thankful to such dedicated caring staff at East Lancashire Hospitals Trust (Burnley site), and to the NHS as a whole.
We owe you so much.