Finding a lump in your breast is probably one of the scariest things I could imagine happening.
As a woman, being told to conduct regular self-exams is just one of the fun and exciting tests we have to look forward to on our health calendar.
But so far, touch wood, I haven’t ever had the experience of discovering anything untoward in one of these self-exams.
I do know, as most of us unfortunately do, women that have.
Recently, one of these women was my mother.
My mum is one of those people, common of a certain generation, who worries about every minor affliction (sniffles, a cough, cracked skin), but when something more sinister displays itself seems to avoid it for as long as possible.
So, when my mum told me she had found a lump in her breast there was no way I was letting her take her time getting it looked at.
I knew from the cases of other family and friends who have made similar discoveries that time is definitely of the essence and can ultimately make the world of difference to the prognosis.
With the news of this discovery, I made sure she visited her GP as soon as she could get an appointment (in fact I made it for her) and decided I’d accompany her on the visit just to make sure all details were explained and questions were asked.
After examining my mum, her GP then referred her for a mammogram and ultrasound, and then after that, a biopsy.
“Any good GP should offer a triple test,” my mother’s doctor told her.
Despite having close friends and family with breast cancer diagnosis, I had never heard of a triple test before, so I asked him what he meant.
He explained that without testing the cells there is no definitive way to confirm what is causing the lump or any abnormality within the breast tissue. In other words, although something may appear on a mammogram and/or ultrasound, without conducting a biopsy you can never be 100 per cent sure as to what it is.
His advice was to always be on the side of caution and best practice would suggest offering this ‘triple test’ whenever something appeared in either of these tests or throughout a self- examination.