Sunday, October 21, 2012

Breast Calcifications - One year on.

In July 2011, I wrote about my breast calcifications, and my biopsy to have them removed, see the full story here: My Recovery

More than twelve months later, and I was due for another check up.. Basically to check that no calcifications had come back, I suppose and also to check that there were no new 'suspect' ones.. etc.etc. I was considering whether to go or not.. It's not exactly a pleasant process, and I didn't for a minute think that there would be new calcifications, and I had no lumps that I was aware of...

However, at the moment there is a lot in the press about Breast Cancer awareness, so I thought what the hell, go for the follow up and be done with it. I booked an appointment, and went along.

I was right, no new calcifications. Mammogram was fine. The ultrasound also did not show any new calcifications. We moved on to the right side, and saw what can only be described as a 'black hole' appear.. Ew ! 'It doesn't look suspect' said the consultant radiographer, as she measured the 'dimensions' of the hole '. We discussed the fact that this was 'new', it was not on the scan last year. 'You can leave it, or if you prefer we can do a biopsy', the radiographer said.

'What now ?' I asked. My little CC was outside in the waiting room doing her maths homework. I guess at a private hospital they can do this sort of thing straight away. 'Yes please' I said. Based on my family history of the disease, I prefer to err on the side of caution.

'Scalpel, please' said the radiographer. Actually, it was the same lady that had carried out my wire biopsy last year, so I am getting used to hearing her say those words... We discussed grammar schools too.. like you do. Anyway, the 'incision' was all of 2mm. She injected what looked like a bucketful of anaesthetic before she took a couple of chunks, with what sounded like a stapler. A few steri strips over the top, and that was that. I saw my consultant immediately afterwards and he reaffirmed what the radiographer had said.

I arranged to see my consultant with the biopsy results on Friday 19th October. It was a long four days, but finally the day came. The 'mass' was not malignant. It also was not a cyst this time.. The size of it is 8.4mm. And what next ? My consultant said that I should have a follow-up ultra sound in three months. The consultant said that some women have cysts or masses that are the size of a small fist, and some choose to have them removed for aesthetic reasons. Fair enough.

The main reason for the next ultrasound is to assess the 'rate of growth'. If it has doubled in size within three months, he said they would probably do another biopsy... I don't know what happens if it is the same size. Maybe I will go back six months later for another check... Who knows ?

It just goes to show that you never can tell what these tests will bring up, and the importance of going for regular health checks.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Grammar School Homework

It's easy, as a parent, to get into the Year 5 and Year 6 grammar school frenzy... with the tutors, the mock tests, the real tests, the bribery and sympathy... You know your child is doing well at school and you want them to get the best secondary school education possible.
          'It's only until the tests are over', 'You can relax all summer, let's just focus on the tests ...'
That was me, and many of the other parents that I knew at the time, and rightly so ! For every place at a grammar school an average of ten children will apply per place. There were over 2000 applicants in my child's year for 210 places. That translates to an on average 90%+ pass mark in the tests, and that's the scores we aimed at.
          This year, the school had an 'overflow' test day too, in order to accommodate all of the applicants.
          Of course we were absolutely thrilled when we got a place. The hard work had paid off. It was poetry in motion. The summer was spent on a high, with much, well deserved, relaxing
          Most grammar school students are used to being top of the class at their primary school. For most children at grammar school, that will no longer be the case. They will be in the middle of the group, they may be at the bottom of the group, they may be top of the group. 
           This manifests itself also in the new subjects at school; they are exposed to a new way of thinking, as they begin their KS3 courses and start to study languages, science, graphics in much greater detail than ever before. Your child may have a talent for Graphics and struggle with English, with the corresponding grades.
           Moving on to homework, let it be said, there is a lot, or certainly more than my daughter was used to. Her primary school was particularly homework-lite. It makes sense though, homework in Junior school was nightly reading, maths, sometimes comprehension,  a little writing, no science or languages. My daughter, having started this September, and we are not yet through a half term, now brings homework in the following subjects: Music, Art, Geography, History, Maths, English, German, Spanish, Science, Religious Studies, Citizenship, Graphics.
           I'm pleased to report, that it's a case of so far, so good for us. I think this is for a couple of reasons. Firstly, she has established a good routine for herself. She arrives home, gets changed, has a snack and then starts her homework. She does not watch TV beforehand, although she might if she doesn't have much homework. 
            A couple of nights a week, she plays sport after school, so does not arrive home until later,so the homework is started later... She aims to complete all homework on the evening it is set, however, as she also swims twice a week ( as well as the after school sport), this is not always possible. 
            However, aiming to complete all of the homework, means that firstly the homework does not pile up, thus providing added pressure, and also weekends are then free in which to spend time relaxing with friends. She has a 'To Do' folder and two 'Completed' folder, and she strives to keep the 'To do' one empty. With this system, she always knows what she has 'to do'.
            I'm all for allowing my child to have some fun - it's not all work, work, work,,, but if you put in the work first, then you can have the fun, knowing the work is done too. 
            After-school teas with a friend, at your home or the friend's home, are a part of this, but I have found that of the couple we have participated in the last five weeks, both children settle down when they arrive home, and get the homework done together. They work at their own pace, and help each other out. I think this is a great idea. It gives the child a sense of responsibility and gets them used to working outside of their normal environment. 
             Don't be surprised to see a massive change in your child as they start Year 7.  They will have a few wobbles, but make sure they have all the bits and pieces they need, and the bumps will even themselves out after a couple of weeks. 
             If you are having homework woes with your child, make sure you get all of the KS3 Study guides for the various subjects (available from Amazon), then you can point them in the right direction when they have a question. Trawling the 'Interweb'  all evening is fine too, if you have all night to do that, the KS3 books are directly targeted at Year 7 and will contain the material your child is studying. Most of all establish a loose routine, and plug the advantages of free time and an empty plate.
             I hope this helps someone out, if you have any questions, please leave me a comment. 

DD helping CC with her homework .....