A funny thing didn’t happen to me on the way to the breast clinic

After a routine mammogram I had been called back for a second screening at the breast clinic.

Of course, the call-back letter isn’t intended to worry its recipient. Of course it cannot go into detail about initial scan results, just advise the patient to return for further investigation. But simply being asked to return is a worry and it isn’t what the letter says, but what we think it’s saying, that is troubling.

I had remained calm during that time of limbo, believing I would be fine. Today, however, looking around at other women in the clinic, not everyone shared my unfounded optimism. Although the screening staff were professional, friendly and informative, the underlying tension was palpable.

A woman emerging from the scanning room wiped tears from her eyes, another looked absolutely terrified. And I, sitting in silence, sans bra under jumper after five mammograms, didn’t hear my name being called, lost as I was in thought. Apparently there was a shadow in my right breast – and it wasn’t Hank Marvin.

Later, an ultrasound test revealed nothing sinister and after a further study of my scans, I was given the all-clear.

As I spoke to the nurse afterwards, thanking her and her team for their time, I knew that I was one of the lucky ones. That some of the women I had been speaking to today would, this afternoon, have their lives changed forever.

When I said my goodbyes, I felt my voice crack and there was a lump in my throat. And I gave a silent thank you that it was the only lump I had.