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"Breast Cancer Treatment and Support during Covid 19"

About: Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre Crosshouse Hospital / Clinical Oncology Crosshouse Hospital / Medical Oncology Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary / Cancer care and Oncology General practices in Dumfries and Galloway NHS Ayrshire & Arran / South West Scotland Breast Screening Centre

(as the patient),

Before I thank all the healthcare staff in NHS Ayrshire/Arran Crosshouse Hospital  and Dumfries and Galloway for the support and treatment I received during my breast cancer diagnoses/treatment, I will tell you my story,

As I was now 52 years old I was invited for my first breast screening  mammogram in March 2020 which was surprisingly alright after hearing stories about it being an uncomfortable procedure. This screening took place through the mobile unit in Dumfries and it covers Dumfries and Galloway, Ayrshire and Arran.  The next day I found a small lump and indentation in my left breast. I tried to remain positive as I was reassured  by the radiographer that I spoke to that 9 out of 10 lumps are harmless.

What followed was a series of examinations and biopsies up in Ayrshire/ Irvine clinic to establish whether it was cancer or a harmless cyst. Waiting on the results was a difficult time and unfortunately for me the pathology did show that it was cancer. The good news for me though was that it was caught at an early stage and was very treatable. Due to Covid 19 a lot of services and screening had started to close down and for me being diagnosed with breast cancer during this pandemic it was not clear how my treatment plan would follow which did leave me feeling very anxious. Through discussions with the team in Crosshouse, Kilmarnock I made the decision to go forward with surgery during Covid as nobody knew what impact this pandemic was going to have on future healthcare and treatments. I do feel very grateful that I was able to proceed with my surgery as I am fully aware that during the lockdown from March 2020 many people in the UK missed out on screening; surgery and other treatment options.

Due to Covid 19 all my consultations and pre assessments were via the telephone with Crosshouse, Kilmarnock where I was to have my first surgery.  I was caught up on a roller coaster of treatments with two operations in June and July 2020 and radiotherapy in September 2020 and I will continue with hormone therapy for the next 5-10 years.   It is now coming up to 7 months from diagnoses and I feel like I am doing alright  and trying to remain positive considering the various stages of treatment and also the ongoing restrictions and anxieties around Covid19. 

I would like to thank the following people and healthcare services for all their excellent support and treatments which will hopefully give me the best prognosis and future health.

Thank you to Ayrshire breast screening clinic who were very efficient and friendly when  doing my biopsies and kept me informed of the next steps.

I was referred over to Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock for my treatment pathway. My surgeon who did both surgeries was fantastic and took time to listen and answer my many questions so a very big thank you to Miss Reid, Tom assistant surgeon and all her staff team. A special thank you to the breast care secretary’s (Both Angela’s )who always quickly responded to my emails. Thank you to the  whole team from radiography (Hannah) for her professional approach; breast care nurses; to the excellent nursing team on the day of my surgery (Lindsay and Lorraine) who provided reassurance and support, Thank you to Mary anaesthetic nurse in the pre op room who held my hand and reassured me that I would be fine, this was really comforting.

Thank you to the two lovely ladies from nuclear medicine who had me laughing and crying! My second surgery was at Nuffield in Glasgow and thank you to my surgeon Miss Reid who again listened and answered my questions prior to surgery.  I received excellent care and attention from the team at Nuffield.  Special thank you to June in recovery; Craig in the theatre; student nurse Maria.

 A big thank you to the Beatson in Glasgow where I had my 3 week course of radiotherapy. They were so professional and the treatment plan was excellent. Thank you to Fiona Radiography specialist from the Beatson who took the time to listen to my experience of my radiography sessions and answered my questions on what to expect next following my radiotherapy.

Prior to going for surgery I started hormone therapy and had injections at my GP surgery, (St Michael Medical Practice Dumfries). When I arrived for my first injection which was on my birthday in April I was feeling overwhelmed by the whole situation.  Due to Covid all restrictions were in place with PPE, which was quite daunting. I  was met by the lovely and friendly practice nurse Dawn who took the time to listen to how I was feeling and although very professional in her approach she was very comforting to me at that time.
Dawn has continued to be a source of support monthly when I am in for my injections and although she is a busy lady she does take the time to ask me how I am feeling which is really important. Also I would like to thank Dr Wylie for his ongoing support and to all the staff at St Michaels medical practice.

With all the information that you are provided with during your treatments/consultations I was handed a leaflet on McMillan NHS Cancer support Services in Dumfries and I was also informed regarding the service from someone who had accessed the service and spoke highly of the support received. Initially I wasn’t ready to speak to anyone other than all the brilliant support and listening ears from my family and friends. However things change with the different stages of your treatments and recovery with me finally making the call to Dumfries NHS McMillan Cancer support. I am so glad I did make the call as the ongoing support and information received from Claire (Manager) is  excellent and it gives me an opportunity to have a safe space to have a confidential conversation about my fears and uncertainties about my future and how to start living my life again albeit with the restrictions of Covid!

Breast screening; being breast aware; advancements in breast surgery and hormone therapies has potentially saved my life and my experience of having a mammogram was actually alright and not what I had expected. I think everyone who does experience cancer during their life will have a different experience, with different emotions and their story will be unique to them regarding their treatment pathway.  I have been very fortunate to have had a positive experience with the support I have received from the NHS in both Dumfries and Galloway and The University Hospital Crosshouse NHS Ayrshire and Arran.


Response from Kevin Torbet, Admin Assistant, Patient Experience and Public Involvement, NHSGGC 10 months ago
Kevin Torbet
Admin Assistant, Patient Experience and Public Involvement,
Submitted on 06/10/2020 at 10:12
Published on Care Opinion at 10:12

picture of Kevin Torbet

Posted on behalf of Melanie McColgan, General Manager

Dear Kaz20

On behalf of the team at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, I would like to thank you for taking the time to show your appreciation of the care you received from the Radiotherapy team at the Beatson and Fiona in particular.

I can only imagine how difficult the past few months have been for you, particularly with the additional challenges of the COVID19 Pandemic. It is therefore, reassuring to hear of your positive experience and I am grateful you have taken the time to share it.

My best wishes and kindest regards


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Response from NHS Ayrshire and Arran 10 months ago
Submitted on 07/10/2020 at 16:16
Published on Care Opinion on 08/10/2020 at 11:35

Posted on behalf of Dr Jacqueline Kelly, Clinical Director

Dear Kaz20,

Many thanks for taking the time to post on Care Opinion about your positive experience at the South West of Scotland Breast Screening Centre. This review will hopefully reassure and encourage more women to attend for breast screening, particularly during these challenging times of COVID 19. On behalf of the team at Breast Screening, your feedback is much appreciated and we wish you all the very best for the future.

Kind regards,

Dr Jacqueline Kelly

Clinical Director.

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