A mother urges people to see a doctor after a breast lump, which she ignored for seven months because she was afraid of Covid and didn’t want to become a “burden” to the NHS, turned out to be cancer.
Michelle Tatarczuk, 42, from Epsom, Surrey, first discovered the small lump in her right breast in March 2020, but didn’t finally get it checked until October 2020 due to the pandemic.
The personal assistant, who lives with her husband Alex, 37, a quantity surveyor, and their son Christopher, 13, said: “Like many other people at the start of the pandemic, I was very afraid to see a doctor because nobody had the virus wanted to get. “
Michelle is now recovering at home. (Collect / PA Real Life)
She added, “I waited months for the lump to be examined and I am incredibly happy to receive treatment and now I am on the mend.
“I want to urge anyone who puts it off to get examined. It is so important to see your doctor if you think you have found a lump. “
For Michelle, the 1-inch pea-sized lump caused some concern when she first noticed it when she was regularly checking for lumps just days before the initial lockdown, but said she was too concerned to get to her at the height of the pandemic Family doctor to go.
Because of the pandemic, Michelle’s husband was not allowed to go to the hospital with her. (Collect / PA Real Life)
She said, “I kept putting it off.
“My work pays for a private annual health assessment, so I planned to bring the lump up then, but Lockdown canceled the appointment that should have been in April.
“I was afraid to go to my family doctor because the Covid threat was so scary and I didn’t want to be a burden either.”
Convinced the lump was benign, Michelle waited until October 2020, seven months after she first found it, to take her rescheduled health assessment at a Bupa Health Center in central London.
She said, “The doctor there wasn’t worried – she said it felt good. But I was still worried, so I signed up for further tests privately. “
Referred to Zoe Winters, professor of breast surgery at New Victoria Hospital, Michelle had a mammogram and ultrasound on November 12th.
Michelle is now urging other people not to postpone doctor appointments any longer. (Collect / PA Real Life)
She said, “I drove alone because my husband was not allowed in due to Covid restrictions, so he was waiting for me in the parking lot.
“It was pretty scary going in alone, but I felt really supported by Zoe.”
The ultrasound, which was taken for testing, showed a shadow next to the lump and a biopsy confirmed that the cells were cancerous.
Michelle underwent surgery to remove the lump in December 2020. (Collect / PA Real Life)
A week later, on November 19, Michelle was notified that she had grade two and one estrogen-positive breast cancer.
Despite the delay, doctors were able to detect the cancer early enough to be sure they could successfully treat it with a lumpectomy to remove the tumor in her breast, followed by radiation therapy.
On December 9, 2020, Michelle was admitted to Lister Hospital in Chelsea, west London, for a lumpectomy and sentinel lymph node biopsy.
She said, “It was all very easy. The operation lasted two and a half hours and in late February, after I recovered from the procedure, I started my 10 daily radiation therapy sessions.
Michelle had her last radiation therapy session on March 9th and has been recovering at home ever since.
She said, “I still take medication every day and it was a little difficult to get used to. I still go to my oncologist as we are trying to find a balance with the dosage. “
Michelle waited seven months before having the lump in her breast examined. (Collect / PA Real Life)
But so far the signs are good.
Michelle said, “Although I haven’t received the all-clear, my scans and tests have come back well so far.
“I’m very grateful that it was caught in time – I feel incredibly happy.
“And I’m very grateful to Zoe, who made me feel like I received a lot of support in everything.”
Michelle, pictured here with her son Christopher. (Collect / PA Real Life)
Michelle is now urging other people who may be delaying their doctor’s visit because of Covid to make their appointments.
She said, “I think for a lot of people we were just scared to go to the hospital because no one wanted to take the virus.
“During the pandemic, it was difficult to be in the hospital because you were pretty much alone.”
She added, “The nurses and staff were fantastic, but I couldn’t have my own support network with me and it was incredibly tough.
“It can put a lot of people off – but it’s so important to get examined. It can be a life-saving decision. “
New Victoria Hospital Breast Surgery Professor Zoe Winters said, “Clinically there were no obvious abnormalities, but mammograms and ultrasound showed an atypical lump that was confirmed to be a small cancer by biopsy. The breast MRI showed other small nodules that made a gentle operation possible. “
Early detection of breast cancer is vital as it increases the chance of successful treatment. For more information on the services of Professor Zoe Winters and the specialized breast clinic at New Victoria Hospital, please visit: www.newvictoria.co.uk
You can find more stories from where you live at Near you.