So, we are now pretty much up to date, so posts from this point on will be ‘live’!
Today I was invited to go to a follow up session back at the hospital. This is for women roughly 4 weeks post-surgery, and is run by one of the BCNs. I was happily driving myself this time, and my daughter (home for the holidays) came with me – although, as we’d suspected the session itself was for ladies only. We were there far too early, but you never can tell what the parking will be like, so we sat in Costa for a bit. The medics on the table next to us were being regaled by one of their number slagging off other staff (really unprofessional) and claiming that all breast surgery will be obsolete in 10 years time! Someone should tell him to be careful what he says in a public space!
Anyway, there were about 15 or so of us for the session, which lasted about an hour and a half in total, as there were lots of questions at the end. Our ages varied hugely, and inevitably our treatment pathways were obviously also different. The nurse did a great job of making it relevant to us all. One of the main messages was that we are never taken off their books. If a worry or issue crops us, we are encouraged to get in touch. We will all receive an annual appointment for a mammogram, but this will take place in the unit at the hospital, rather than any of the other locations. Once a month we were also told we should be checking ourselves for breast changes, and obviously getting in touch if anything is different from our new ‘normal’, whatever that may be once we have completed our treatments. Scarily, other signs to look out for were detailed (bone pain, shortness of breath etc) because a recurrence can occur in other parts of the body.
We talked quite a bit about the hormone tablets many of us will be prescribed, which I found interesting. I know I will be having this at some point, and impartial information was useful.
She then went on to tell us about some of the additional support that is out there for us. The trust runs a Living Well day session to support women post-treatment including as many aspects of life as possible, for example diet and finance. We talked here quite a bit about keeping active, and for those wanting to, getting back to exercising. This was really useful, as I really want to try to keep my fitness reasonable. I’m in no way super fit – let’s face it, I’m a very averagely fit 49 year old woman who could lose a stone (and the rest!) quite happily. But I am used to exercising regularly, and really want to keep that up within reason (although I now gather swimming during chemo is a no-no). ….Quick pause while I hang out the washing & do my physio that I’d forgotten!… We were also told about the pretty extensive services offered by Macmillan and Penny Brohn, including exercise sessions specifically tailored for cancer sufferers – may have to explore that further.
Lots of specific questions at the end – some about non-dissolved stitches, which the nurse offered to check after we’d finished. Pretty sure I have one, but didn’t have the courage to say so!
All in all I’m glad I went. I thought the session was frank and honest, with lots of useful advice, so if you’re offered something like this it’s worth considering!