"A very positive experience of the NHS"
I’ve had a very positive experience of cancer services. 9 months ago, I went to a one stop breast clinic at Guy’s Hospital, where I saw a nurse, had mammograms, ultrasounds, and biopsies. At the end of the session, the nurse told me that I had cancer in my left breast and needed more tests.
Following that, I had a whirlwind of tests and procedures to find out more. Everything was so quick, and I had no sense of having to wait at all. Following CT scan, bone scan, and a biopsy of my right breast, I was told that I have Invasive Ductal Carcinoma grade 3. The lump was so large at 5cm x 5cm that I could not feel it. Unfortunately, I was told this had spread to my lymph nodes and I had some lung nodules. I was told that my cancer is HER2+ receptive.
Although this was a very distressing time, I had a wonderful surgeon, oncology team and breast nurses who guided me through the treatment I would have. Being relatively young at 42, I was given 6 neo-adjuvant chemotherapy doses of Docitaxel, combined with Herceptin and Pertuzumab, which had only just been licenced for use in the UK.
I was lucky; I responded very well to the treatment, and after 3 cycles, my primary tumour had shrunk considerably, and my lung nodules had also reduced significantly. Once my chemotherapy had finished, I was told that I could continue Herceptin and Pertuzumab for the foreseeable future.
Following a consultation with the surgeon, I had a left mastectomy with full axial clearance. This gave me the chance to have what was left of my primary removed, so that the targeted therapy could be focused on my lungs. I also had 15 sessions of radiotherapy.
Being in the health and social care profession, I felt I needed to be as informed as possible about my treatment. Everyone in the medical team appreciated this, and always explain as much as possible. I feel this is one of the reasons why I am in a fortunate position now.
9 months on, I am getting back to work and slowly building up my stamina. I am monitored regularly, and still have my Herceptin and Pertuzumab every 3 weeks. I have faith in everyone treating me, and most of all, I feel that I have fully participated in all the decisions involved in that treatment. It remains a very positive experience of the NHS.