Women being treated for breast cancer at Basildon University Hospital are benefitting from additional support thanks to a new programme of workshops.
Held by the breast cancer nurses at the Trust, and designed by the charity Breast Cancer Care, the workshops are called Moving Forward. A group of eight patients were invited to attend the weekly sessions, where they are offered support and information about life after breast cancer, including treatments, how diet and lifestyle can affect health and the possibility of recurrence of the disease. Clinicians and health professionals from the Trust, including an oncologist, a pharmacist, a dietitian, a physiotherapist and a psychologist, have attended the sessions to share their expertise and answer questions, along with a trained volunteer from Breast Cancer Care, who has had the disease herself.
The workshops also provide an opportunity for women to share their experiences, talk about the emotional and psychological aspects of breast cancer, and offer each other support.
Maria Metson, 53, (pictured above, right) was offered a place on the Moving Forward course, following her treatment for breast cancer. She says that gaining more understand of her condition has been very beneficial.
She says: "After my diagnosis I was really holding my breath. I remember doing some gardening and thinking 'if this doesn't go well if could be the last time I'm fit enough to do this'. My consultant at Basildon Hospital, Mr Salih, was excellent and very supportive. After my surgery I was told that the cancer had not spread to my lymphatic system and that was the best news ever.
"When I was asked if wanted to join the workshops I thought if there was too much emphasis on the emotional side it might not be for me, but I wanted a better understanding of the medical side. The information I was given was good and very detailed but I still had questions and the Moving Forward programme gave me the opportunity to get answers.
"We were also given very good information about how important lifestyle and diet can be, and how to be aware of any possible recurrence.
"I found that understanding my condition makes me better able to tolerant the discomfort. It was also very interesting hearing other people's experiences. We have built up a really good rapport in the group and we are going to keep in touch."
The programme was piloted at Basildon University Hospital with support from Breast Cancer Care. Vanessa Kendle, one of the breast care nurses at Basildon Hospital, said: "We are so pleased to have been able to offer this additional support to some of our breast cancer patients. The group who attended the workshops say they have gained so much from them and we hope very much to be able to offer more patients this opportunity in the future."