Saturday, 26 October 2013

I had been waiting and

then waiting and waiting for the results of my biennial "breast screen". (Gentlemen reading this I make no apologies for mentioning it!)
I first had one eight years ago - when I became eligible for the government's free screening service. My GP did not suggest it and even seemed surprised that I should bother but I belong to a loose group of women with disabilities who try to set an example to other women with disabilities who might feel that such things do not apply to them or that the difficulties of getting it done are too great.
There are also important reasons why I personally should get a check.
It is not a comfortable process but the new procedure is much better than the old one. I won't go into details. The whole thing was over and done with very quickly.
It was the results I had to wait for. I was warned as I left that there would be a longer wait than usual. The service was criticised recently for failure to read some problems with the new equipment. I don't think the staff can be criticised but their training perhaps caused a problem. They are now being even more careful but it means delays. 
I was prepared for the four week delay but five weeks later I had heard nothing. Okay, there was also a public holiday and I thought that might have added to the delay. I told myself not to worry but... well you know what it is like...and the Senior Cat (who unfortunately knew that I had been for the screen) was getting even more worried. I waited another couple of days and then I sent an e-mail because the time waiting on the phone was something I did not have with the computer playing games and other things to do.
There was no answer that day or the following morning. In the afternoon I went off to sort books for the book stall without having seen the mail come.
I arrived home to a full sheet of paper on the table "OK!". One of the staff at the centre had rung. She must have heard the extreme anxiety of the Senior Cat because she broke with the standard protocol and said, "I'm not supposed to do this but it is good news so I will tell you".
I am extremely grateful to her both for the good news but, every bit as much, for alleviating the anxiety of the Senior Cat.  Yes, he is an inveterate worrier but the recent death of his cousin's daughter from cancer had heightened his normal level of anxiety to even greater levels than usual.
Yesterday someone else rang to double check that I had been given the results - and the Senior Cat took the call. And yes, I was out! (Sorting more books.) This person said she could not really speak to him and even her reassurance there was nothing wrong did not help. 
 He panicked and couldn't remember my mobile number or find it but rang someone else he knew would be in the hall with me.  "Use the office phone Cat."
I used the office phone and finally spoke to the person, "No, nothing wrong but we wanted to be sure you had the message. It shouldn't have been given to someone else."
I explained about the Senior Cat's age and anxiety. "Tell him not to worry."
I think I may suggest a slight change to their procedures, that they might send an answer via e-mail if requested to do so, but I have much to be thankful for - and I just sent an e-mail to say "Thankyou".


Jan said...

I'm glad you had good results but I can well understand your father's anxiety.

My sister, six years younger than I am, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in very early 1997.

Since then, there have been several operations and several scary moments. A total reconstruction, and several critical illnesses caused by a depressed immune system. She will be on tamoxifen all her life as it returns when the drug is stopped. It's a rare cancer and has been the same since the first diagnosis. There's even been a spot in the lung.

A few months ago there was the prospect of another lung spot but all is clear. We all breathed a big sigh of relief.

Judy Edmonds said...

I am disappointed that your GP was so laxidaisical about you having the screening (though obviously delighted that your results were clear!) All GPs should be encouraging all women of appropriate age to have them at the appropriate intervals.

catdownunder said...

I really feel for your sister and your entire family Jan. It's an awful thing to live with.
And I totally agree Judy. I was surprised by how casually the entire clinic we attend takes this. I would have thought a campaign to make sure everyone eligible had them would be much more appropriate but they all seem to shrug and say "If you want to..."

Anonymous said...

When I have my first screen done some years ago the friend who had convinced me to go said 'Don't worry if your result takes a long time to come back. If something bad is happening they are quick to tell you.' A month later I relaxed for the first time since I'd had it done - surely I was okay now. And then a couple of days later it came in the post - I'd failed!!! I was so shocked to see it that I always wonder now if it was only because I'd dropped my guard, or if I would have been equally distressed if I'd still been expecting the worst!