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Breast Cancer Awareness Month Member Voice – ‘I found a lump!’

To mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this October President of the PDA NAWP Network, Ayah Abbass shares her personal experience of one of the scariest moments in her life - finding a lump in her breast. Ayah also offers advice to those in a similar situation.

Sun 1st October 2023 The PDA

As healthcare professionals, we sometimes forget that we can be patients too. When I got elected as the president of NAWP, I made it my aim to get members involved and to create a safe space for women. So here I am being vulnerable and sharing one of the scariest moments in my life.

On an ordinary evening, I was watching TV after work but was struggling with severe period pains and felt extremely tired that day. Then suddenly I felt it! I felt a small hard lump in my right breast. At first, I thought I was imagining things and had to ask my husband to confirm. The sickening feelings started when he said to me, “Ayah, there is a lump!”

I will be honest, as a healthcare professional I would have told my patients to contact their GP immediately, but as a healthcare professional, you can forget that you can get unwell too. So I started looking at our NAWP factsheets for signs and symptoms. I carried out a breast examination and I knew the lump was there, the truth is I was hoping it would have disappeared the next day. Unfortunately, it hadn’t gone the next day so I made an appointment with my GP.

I started overthinking and worrying about what I would do if I had breast cancer. I think the only thing that helped me with this situation was that my sister went through a similar situation and I’m grateful to say her lump was benign.

My GP was very reassuring and informed me that she would refer me urgently, so I should hear from the breast cancer clinic department soon. I was so grateful that my GP made the referral and that it wouldn’t be long before I would hear from the clinic.

I received the letter for my appointment at the breast cancer clinic quite quickly. To this day I can’t thank the team there enough – they were very friendly and reassuring as they are aware of how anxious the patients are. The doctor checked my lump and informed me that it was most likely benign. This was a massive relief.

I was then told I needed further checks to fully confirm this and, due to the fact that I was over 25, I needed a biopsy to confirm my results. My sister went through the same procedure, and I was with her at the time, so was familiar with what it involved. First, I had an ultrasound and the doctor confirmed that my lump looked like fibroadenoma and not cancer.

Then I had a biopsy where I was given local anaesthetic, which felt just like a sharp scratch, and a small sample was taken. The only thing that was discomforting was a clicking sound. However, I had an incredible nurse by my side distracting me and trying to reassure me throughout the process. But honestly, at this point, I was so grateful for the good news so the biopsy felt like a minor discomfort that I would undertake any day for the news I received. I think that looking at the NHS and Breast Cancer Now websites regarding what to expect during the appointment helped me to feel less anxious.

After a couple of days, I received a letter from the hospital with a telephone appointment with one of the doctors to confirm my biopsy results.

I am writing about my experience to encourage everyone to make sure they check their breasts regularly so you can spot any changes quickly and report them to your GP. Breast changes can happen for many reasons and most breast lumps are not cancerous. But it’s so important to get it checked out. I am so thankful to my supportive family and work colleagues. I have included the resources I used to help me feel less anxious during that time. Also, don’t forget you can speak to your local pharmacist. Be breast aware!

Wear it Pink for Breast Cancer Now

As NAWP, we get involved in Wear It Pink for Breast Cancer Now to help increase awareness and raise money to help research in the area. Please join in and support our campaign by sending a photo of yourself wearing pink to for NAWP to share on our social media channels.


By Ayah Abbass, President of PDA NAWP Network

download the breast cancer awareness factsheet here

thumbnail of Breast cancer awareness factsheet

Learn more

Get involved

  • Send a photo of yourself wearing pink for NAWP to share on their social media channels to by 10 October 2023
  • Donate to Breast Cancer Now here
  • Follow the PDA NAWP Network on social media using the hashtag #PDAnawp
  • For more information about the PDA NAWP Network, click here.
  • If you would like to get involved with the network and its activities, please email:



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