Margaret was treated for breast cancer at GenesisCare and was supported by Penny Brohn UK to manage the side-effects from treatment and to help her relax. She found her clinical needs and holistic needs were completely looked after.
"The support I have received has helped me to appreciate what I have and enjoy my life. I have felt totally embraced with the support, treatment and holistic approach."
In January 2017 I noticed some changes in my breast and decided to see my GP. I wasn’t really sure if it was a lump or something else and the GP was also unsure. I'd had a mammogram seven months previously and the results were normal. Despite that my GP referred me to the breast clinic at the hospital because my Mum had been diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2015.
I was fast tracked through the system, and in one afternoon I had an ultrasound and biopsy. The following week I was given the news that I had breast cancer. I received six rounds of pre-adjuvant chemotherapy at my local NHS hospital and found the experience very difficult. At each appointment I saw a different doctor and I didn’t meet my consultant until the end of chemotherapy. I felt so stressed about my diagnosis and treatment and the lack of continuity of care didn’t help.
After the chemotherapy the lump in my breast had softened but had not reduced in size. I had a further meeting with my surgeon, and he told me I would still need a mastectomy. He told me that he was concerned about the seriousness of my condition and receiving the radiotherapy in a timely manner as well as additional treatment. He suggested that I see an oncologist based in GenesisCare to have the next phase of treatment.
I felt that I needed to do everything I possibly could and decided to move to GenesisCare. I was introduced to my oncologist consultant, Dr Macmillan, who had previously worked with my surgeon. Dr Macmillan confirmed that I would need radiotherapy soon after surgery, followed by another course of chemotherapy. The news hit me hard. I really wasn’t expecting to have more chemotherapy. But the consultant explained how it worked and gave me the study that provided the evidence on which he was basing his recommendation. I totally trust my surgeon and Dr Macmillan and know they are doing the best for me so in turn I want to do the best I can for them by following their advice.
My recovery after surgery wasn’t straight forward, and I had problems with seroma swellings. But I was determined to be fit enough to start radiotherapy, and seven weeks after my mastectomy that's what I did. GenesisCare provided transport every day for my appointment, they recognised that to drive to the appointment every day for 15 days was an added stress that I didn’t need. The team at GenesisCare even arranged with the car firm for me to have the same driver, helping me to build a relationship and know who to expect each day. Trust and confidence are a major part of successful treatment.
Over the next six months I had eight more sessions of chemotherapy. The chemotherapy was a different type and caused a number of side effects which were different from the side effects I had experienced during the first course.
During my radiotherapy treatment I had an appointment with Bev, the Penny Brohn UK Wellbeing Consultant. After months of feeling like just a patient number and date of birth; Bev made me feel like a human again. I hadn’t heard of Penny Brohn UK before but Bev explained the ideas behind relaxation, meditation, acupuncture, reflexology and how to live well after cancer. Immediately I loved the supportive nature of the charity and how it supports lifestyle changes, but ones that work for the individual. There is no pressure that something is right or wrong.
Bev worked very closely with Barbara the GenesisCare Breast Care Nurse and between them they helped build up my confidence. Barbara was there to support my clinical needs and queries whilst Bev was there for my holistic needs.
Bev supported me throughout my treatment. My feet really suffered from the chemotherapy and Bev was really helpful in caring for them. I developed Lymphedema and was quite upset as well as annoyed at the development. Bev was so supportive and gently provided information about the condition, helping me to accept it and realise that it wasn’t my fault.
I also had acupuncture and practised meditation to help me deal with hot flushes and aching limbs; all side effects from the chemotherapy and hormone treatments. I’m not the most relaxed person but the meditation has helped me to become more relaxed. Since having cancer I have been more open minded about trying things that could help me and the acupuncture and meditation have made a difference.
Bev and Barbara organise coffee mornings for women from the Breast Cancer clinic, which offers an opportunity to meet and support each other. They also arrange for speakers at some of the mornings to discuss issues being raised by the ladies. I have found it so helpful to meet other ladies at these coffee mornings. Each person is at a different point in their journey but we all have an understanding and respect for each other’s choices.
I found that I needed the most support after my treatment had finished. During treatment I was so focused on what I needed to do to get through it and complete it without any delays. Bev has always been there to listen to me and is still supporting me when I need it. The support I have received has helped me to appreciate what I have and enjoy my life.
I have felt totally embraced with the support, treatment and holistic approach received from Penny Brohn UK and Genesis Care.