Filomena and her sister, Maria, were diagnosed with breast cancer within 20 minutes of each other. Together they received support from Penny Brohn UK; support which they describe as being 'priceless'.
"I cannot sing Penny Brohn UK’s praises enough! The level of support from Bev has been amazing. Maria and I are both incredibly grateful that Penny Brohn UK and Bev have been there to support us throughout."
My sister, Maria, and I were diagnosed with breast cancer within 20 minutes of each other. Our mother had only recently died and our diagnoses came as a huge shock.
We were both recalled for further investigation after attending routine mammogram appointments and we weren’t initially concerned as there was no history of cancer in the family.
Upon diagnosis we were both offered surgery for the same date, but this wasn’t ideal; whilst I had the comfort of a support network comprising my husband and children, my sister lives alone, and we needed to support each other post-surgery. My husband has private medical insurance and, thanks to this, we were able to bring my surgery forward by a week, enabling me to be of some support to Maria when she had her own surgery. So, I started my treatment with GenesisCare, whilst Maria had her treatment through the NHS.
After my lumpectomy, it was found that the cancer was in my nodes and I needed a second surgery for node clearance. I then had radiotherapy, and it was borderline whether or not I needed chemotherapy. After fully discussing my options with my consultant, who explained to me that my ‘Predict’ statistics showed that chemo would only have added a very marginal benefit over surgery and radiotherapy alone in my particular case. I decided against chemo given its potential impact and side effects.
In Maria’s case, her nodes were clear of cancer, and she underwent radiotherapy at Addenbrookes in Cambridge.
At my final radiotherapy appointment at GenesisCare, the receptionist mentioned Penny Brohn UK and mentioned that I could have an initial consultation with Bev, the Penny Brohn Wellbeing Consultant. To be honest I immediately thought it to be a sales pitch, but when I met Bev I very quickly realised that it was the best thing I could have done.
I told Bev about Maria and how I was trying to support both of us. Bev said that she could also receive support through Penny Brohn UK, and Maria became the first NHS patient to receive Penny Brohn UK support through the GenesisCare centre in Milton Keynes. We were able to have a dual experience. We received counselling and have had joint and individual sessions. Having a professional to talk to made all the difference to Maria’s wellbeing.
We both go to a monthly coffee morning at GenesisCare where we can ask the consultants and guest speakers questions, and meet up with other ladies who have had a similar experience to ours. The support has been priceless and we can’t believe how fortunate we are that the service exists!
At first I was in denial about my diagnosis and it was only after my second surgery that I realised I needed to take it seriously. Bev helped me realise that I could only live in denial for so long and she helped me to prepare for the day when I realised the enormity of what Maria and I had been through together, especially as it had been so soon after losing our mum.
I cannot sing Penny Brohn UK’s praises enough! The level of support from Bev has been amazing. Maria and I are both incredibly grateful that Penny Brohn UK and Bev have been there to support us throughout.