I was a fun and flirty 23 year old living in a flat share with my friends in North London. It was early February and the sun was shining but it was still bitterly cold. I didn't care though because it was my day off and I had the flat to myself. I was going to binge on daytime TV, write posts for my blog and text that boy that I really shouldn't have been texting. After a healthy lie in, I jumped in the shower and that's when everything changed.
I found a lump. A scary lump. I stood under the shower and I cried. No, I bawled. In my head this lump symbolised the end of everything. I thought of all the things I had done and all the things I wouldn't get to do. I stood in that shower and cried until the water ran cold and I had to get out.
I sat on my bed until the weeping subsided and then denial set in. I convinced myself I was going to be perfectly fine because I was young, I had no family history and it just couldn't happen to me. For FIVE WHOLE MONTHS, I played Russian roulette with my life. I would ignore it all day and then feel it at night and not be able to sleep. Every day I would promise to book an appointment but there was always an excuse not to. I was scared to check and naive enough to believe it would go away on its own. If I could go back in time, I would give myself two slaps for being so stupid.
Eventually, I called the GP and the receptionist booked me in for an emergency appointment. I remember so clearly my heart clenching and my stomach dropping as the gravity of the situation finally dawned on me. My doctor could sense my nerves so we skipped the small talk and got down to business. She gave me a breast exam and explained that the lump was a fibroadenoma aka as a breast mouse. A fibroadenoma is a 'very common benign (not cancer) breast condition'. You can read more about this condition on the Breast Cancer Care website.
I was equal parts relieved and frustrated as I could have known this months ago but instead chose to gamble on my health and put myself through so much stress. The doctor gave me advice on the changes I should look out for and explained that I need to keep an eye on my lump in case there was a change in shape or size.
There is no wrong way to perform a breast exam, you just have to be breast aware so you can detect any changes. Even though I turned out to be fine, I can't stress how important it is to not follow my lead. If you feel a lump, go see your doctor straight away. Early detection can save your life.