I promise these posts will become cheerier but for today it’s #WorldCancerDay and there’s nothing cheery about cancer. Unless you’ve survived. Like I have. Twice.
Let’s be clear, my cancers were not life threatening at the time. They could have been had I not caught them in time, but they were life impacting. I was interviewed here by Fight For Sight so you can read more about my story and why I’m glad to be an ambassador. What I’d like to say today is to make sure you follow up with every lump, bump or bruise. If anything doesn’t seem right just check it.
With my secondary cancer, an adenocarcinoma, I was sent away from the GP three times. I’d noticed a slightly tender lump in the roof of my mouth. I had just had my second child so was told it was probably due to hormones. A few months later I returned because I was sure it had grown in size. Again they said it was because I was now pregnant and it was hormones. Before baby three was born I had a dental check up and pointed out the lump to my dentist. He immediately made me an appointment for a head, neck and throat surgeon the next day.
As I had private health insurance I needed a referral from my GP to see the oral surgeon. My GP actually scolded me like a child and told me I was wasting taxpayers money by coming back for a third time and insisting on a referral. The surgeon took a biopsy and called me a few days later that it was as he’d suspected, a tumour.
My GP have given me excellent service ever since. All the staff know who I am and I’ve never had to wait for an appointment. I think they were so worried I would sue. And I had good reason but the NHS is stretched enough as it is and I didn’t believe I’d gain anything from a costly battle and the stress around that, especially when I had to undergo major surgery to remove and then reconstruct the hard and soft palate.
My point is, if you’re a woman over 40 you’re in the highest risk category for health insurers (I’m uninsurable!). So don’t be a martyr or worry about being labelled a hypochondriac. Just.Get.Checked.