"Treatment for Breast Cancer at Bournemouth..."

About: Royal Bournemouth General Hospital

At the beginning of January, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in my left breast which had spread to the lymph nodes under my arm, under the clavicle and in my neck. I had my first Chemotherapy treatment on the 21st January.

I had 6 cycles of 2 chemotherapy drugs, plus 2 targeted therapies, the latter which I will continue to receive.

I received all the information I requested from my doctors and nurses and I was able to access the hospital 24/7 for advice.

I always received the help I needed.

The nurses administering my chemo are lovely.

The department is clean, tidy and efficient.

At the end of my chemotherapy I had surgery.

I requested both my breasts be removed.

The hospital was not at all keen on removing my healthy right breast but I was adamant that, for a number of reasons, that was what I wanted.

I also stated that I did not want reconstruction.

I had a meeting with my surgeon and my breast care nurse which at times bordered on becoming heated and I was required to provide evidence of why I believed this decision was right for me and in my best interests.

I feel that my surgeon and breast care nurse were absolutely right to argue against my request because they needed to ensure that I had thought it through properly and really meant it.

They explained that the first reaction of a lot of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer is to request both breasts be removed but, later, after further thought, they usually change their minds.

In support of my arguments I wrote a detailed letter explaining why I wanted my healthy right breast removed as well as my diseased left breast and I obtained a supporting letter from a friend in the medical profession who has known me professionally and personally for over 30 years.

I am 56 years of age, live alone and have no other close family.

Therefore my decision was not going to affect anyone else.

After what would have been very careful consideration, my surgeon and breast care nurse accepted my arguments and reasoning and agreed to my request. The fact that I had had 5 1/2 months to think about it helped and they knew that from the outset I had stated I did not want to be left with just one breast.

My surgery took place on the 20th June 2015.

I am very grateful to everyone involved and having had the surgery I have absolutely no doubt that it was the right decision for me.

Prior to surgery, my surgeon explained the operation in detail and whilst I am still healing, the results are excellent.

I have radiotherapy to come but that will be at Poole Hospital.

I have no doubt that Poole Hospital will be as efficient and caring as Bournemouth has been.

I cannot praise the breast care team highly enough.

What is even better is that following my surgery the histology shows minimal disease was left in my breast and none in the lymph nodes in the axilla.

The prognosis for the future is therefore very good.

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from James Rowden, Patient Engagement and Clinical Liaison, Royal Bournemouth & Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Dear Miss Westwood

Thank you for your detailed outline of the treatment you have received with us over the last 6 months and sorry to hear the diagnosis was not favourable leaving you with a difficult decision on how to progress with your treatment.

As a Trust we endeavour to treat each patient on an individual basis which can be difficult when the treatment for some conditions follows a standardised pathway, so we are pleased to know that you not only felt comfortable enough to engage in a ‘heated’ debate but appreciated the value in such a robust conversation to be absolutely certain this was the correct course of action for you as an individual.

It is good to know the information you requested to help in your decision making was readily available along with 24/7 advice so you could receive all the help you needed. Thank you also for noting the department was clean, tidy and efficient.

I will forward this posting to the Dr’s and Nurses involved in your treatment as I know they will appreciate your praise of them in your honest and open feedback and will also be pleased to know that the results are looking good.

We wish you well with your continued treatment and therapy at Poole Hospital and thank you again for your feedback.


Patient Engagement Team

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