Breast Cancer

By Lesley Fallowfield; Andrew Clark | Go to book overview

Chapter three

Finding a breast lump and hearing the diagnosis

Finding a breast lump

I was turning over in bed and I thought oh no—I knew exactly what it was. I woke up my husband and I said to him ‘I’ve got cancer’.

I was having a bath and I felt the lump. I felt sick and shook all over—my Mum died of breast cancer, so I guessed straight away what it was.

Well I was sitting down knitting actually and the end of the needle dug my breast when I leaned over to pick up some more wool. I rubbed it and noticed the lump. I got up and looked in the mirror and saw a sort of dent, but I thought that might have been the knitting needle. It was still there in the morning, so I phoned my daughter-in-law—she used to be a nurse. She came round and marched me straight down to the doctors.

Most women realize the significance of their symptoms straightaway, although a surprisingly high number delay consulting a doctor about their breast lump. Knopf (1974) found that 80 per cent of the general public knew that the presence of a breast lump could mean cancer. In the past fifteen years, breast cancer has received so much publicity on the radio and television and there has been such a vast number of articles written in newspapers and magazines about the subject, that it would be rather difficult not to realize the potential significance of a breast lump. However, as I mentioned in the last chapter, lay populations consistently overestimate the mortality figures for cancer in all sites, and they underestimate the survival rates. Hence,

-34-

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