When she felt worried and alone, Cath reached out to our nurse helpline for the advice and reassurance she needed. Our helpline is here for anyone affected by breast cancer or worried about their breast health. Whether you need information, specialist support, or want to go over things, our nurses are at the other end of the phone.
Can you tell us about your diagnosis, Cath?
After discovering a lump, I was diagnosed with triple positive invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer in 2021, at age 49. I have a young boy, 3 grown-up children and a husband, and it was a shock to us all. Your brain pings off in all sorts of directions as to what this now means.
What has your treatment involved?
My consultant was very quick to get my treatment started. After all the usual pre-chemo scans and heart checks, I had 6 rounds of chemotherapy every 3 weeks, then I had a double mastectomy and lymph node removal.
After surgery, I had 5 rounds of radiotherapy and I needed the Herceptin injection every 3 weeks for a year, which I finished in July 2022.
Why did you decide to use our nurse helpline?
After my surgery, I felt very alone and was worried about whether things were normal, and I didn’t seem to be getting answers from my nurses and doctors.
How did using the helpline impact you?
When I rang the helpline, I spoke to a nurse from Breast Cancer Now. She was so kind and reassuring and listened to all my concerns. She understood exactly the pains and strange sensations I described to her. She even identified the feeling, asking, ‘Does it feel like there’s a cheese grater under your arm?’ And that was exactly it.
She reiterated how important it was to do the daily exercises the hospital had given me and explained why it was so essential to keep persevering with them. This gave me the motivation to keep going even though they were painful.
Using the nurse helpline made me feel like someone cared and understood. I cried with relief.
It wasn’t just the practical help they provided but also the emotional help, like arranging for me to have a call from a Someone Like Me volunteer. It was lovely to be able to talk to someone who’d been through the same thing and answer my questions - of which I had a lot.
If you hadn't used the service, how do you think things would have been different?
Without the Breast Cancer Now nurses at the end of the phone I would have felt very alone. Knowing they were there was so comforting. The Helpline really was invaluable, and I'd encourage everyone affected by breast cancer to make use of it.
Since my treatment finished, the fear of reoccurrence has been unbearable at times, but again, speaking to someone on the end of the phone has been such a relief.
Keep up the good work Breast Cancer Now - we love you.