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Strawberry Tea is here!

This summer, get together with friends and family over a Strawberry Tea.

Last year, thousands of people supported Breast Cancer Care and held Strawberry Teas across the UK - and this year we want you! All you need to do is pick a date, invite your friends, family or colleagues and enjoy tea, cake and strawberries. It couldn’t be easier, simply spoil your guests and ask for a donation in return!

This is the Summer of Strawberry Tea competitions so keep checking out our Facebook page to find out how you can win one of these fantastic prizes




5113 More Strawberries & Cream..

What’s more, we’ve teamed up with Interflora to bring you this beautiful Strawberries & Cream Hand-tied bouquet – just perfect for decorating your Strawberry Tea! With Interflora donating 10% from the sale of every bouquet to Breast Cancer Care, why not treat yourself?

Be quick to order yours as the promotion ends on August 9th.

For more information on Strawberry Tea and to sign up for your free fundraising kit go to www.breastcancercare.org.uk/strawberry or call 0870 164 9422.

Thanks so much for your support. With your help, we can provide expert information as well as emotional and practical support when it’s needed most. The funds you raise will help the thousands of women and men facing the brutality of breast cancer this summer, thank you for helping us make such a difference.

Have fun!

Breast Cancer Care's Strawberry Tea team




Strawberry Tea is sponsored by Royal Albert.

Quintessentially English, Royal Albert has been the talking point of stylish tea parties for over 100 years.

Create your perfect afternoon tea collection with Royal Albert, by visiting: www.royalalbert.co.uk





Post date: 29 July 2014

Many people who call us on the Helpline think that having breast cancer automatically means the dreaded ‘chemo’. In fact treatment decisions depend on your particular case. Chemotherapy is just one of the treatments that may or may not be offered to you in addition to surgery.

If it turns out that chemotherapy is planned, we know it can feel pretty daunting and that you’ll have lots of questions such as:

  • Do I really need it?
  • What actually happens?
  • Will I be staying in hospital?
  • Am I going to lose my hair?
  • Will I be very sick?
  • Will I be able to work through treatment?
  • Who will look after me?

It will help you answer all these questions if you understand why chemotherapy is being given, and what the possible benefits and side effects might be. Your doctor or breast care nurse should be able to discuss all of this with you and, if you’ve been thinking of starting or adding to your family, talk with them as early as possible.

Having to choose

Sometimes the case for having chemotherapy is less clear and the choice may be left to you. This can feel stressful but your breast care team should be able to talk you through the pros and cons, and there are some online tools they can show you.

You can also ring us here on the Helpline. We’ll give you as much time as you need to talk through your options.

Hair loss and the cold cap

Chemotherapy uses different combinations of cytotoxic drugs. These are drugs that are particularly harmful to cancer cells, but they can also have a temporary effect on the other cells in your body. For many people this can be the most worrying and upsetting aspect of the treatment.

From the people who call us we know that the thought of hair loss can cause particular distress. You can discuss with your breast care team the possibility of using a ‘cold cap’, which in some people can help to reduce this loss, although there is no guarantee of success.

The cap is fitted 15–30 minutes before the start of each treatment and you need to keep it on for a similar time afterwards. It needs to be worn for every treatment in order to have a chance of success. 

It cools your scalp to a very low temperature and can be quite uncomfortable. It can’t prevent hair loss from other parts of your body.

How chemotherapy is given

You’ll usually be given chemotherapy once every three weeks for six or eight sessions. Giving it this way means the drugs can do their work challenging any cancer cells, but your body, and particularly your immune system, has time to recover before the next session. Occasionally, if you are not well enough, a treatment will be postponed for a short while.

Most commonly it will be given intravenously (via one of your veins) in an outpatient clinic. This can weaken your veins and sometimes a semi-permanent line or port may be inserted using a local or general anaesthetic. This then stays in place for the rest of your treatments. Your nurse will show you how to look after it, and many people tell us that it has made things easier for them.

From beginning to end, each of your chemotherapy sessions can take a number of hours, longer if you are using the cold cap. You’ll be sitting in a comfortable chair and there are usually other people around you having their treatment at the same time.

Your chemotherapy team will be overseeing your treatment and constantly monitoring how you are. Do share any concerns with them and let them know if you feel sick, dizzy or headachy, for instance. Everyone reacts differently to different drugs and the staff need to know how you are feeling so that they can help to make you as comfortable as possible. I sometimes suggest that people think of themselves as part of their own care team.

Here to help

We have a wide range of free services and resources to help you through diagnosis, treatment and beyond.  
You might find it really helpful to talk one-to-one over the phone with a trained volunteer who’s had similar treatment. We can find a match for you through our Someone Like Me service. 5059
For a session with a volunteer trained to help you prepare for the possibility of losing your hair, you can find your nearest HeadStrong service. 5061
 We often hear how very supportive people find our online discussion Forum, where you can be in touch with others going through treatment at the same time as you.  5062
 Our free quarterly Vita magazine and the Vita online pages feature lots of Real Lives stories from people who’ve been through chemotherapy. For example one of our bloggers who had recently been through the experience has put together some very practical information in her post Ten Tips for Getting Through Chemo.  5063
 You might also want to look at our booklet Breast cancer and hair loss.  5064
 And never hesitate to give us a call on the Helpline. We can talk through your concerns, however big or small. We’ll do our best to answer your questions and we can help you to access our information and services and any further support you may need.  5065

 As someone said to me last week,

'Chemo wasn’t a walk in the park, but it was do-able.’


Post date: 29 July 2014

A new type of radiotherapy treatment that could significantly improve the quality of life for some women diagnosed with breast cancer may soon be available as an NHS treatment.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued draft guidance today (Friday 25 July) on intrabeam radiotherapy. The guidance proposes recommending it for NHS patients in England under ‘carefully controlled circumstances’.

What is intrabeam radiotherapy?

Unlike traditional radiotherapy treatment for primary breast cancer, it delivers a single dose of low energy x-rays and is given at the time of breast surgery. At the moment most people come to the hospital daily for a series of smaller treatments of radiotherapy over  three to six weeks.

5076 Who might be offered it?

The new radiotherapy technique will only be suitable for a small number of women having breast-conserving surgery. Even then, there are a series of safeguards being recommended by NICE.

The guidance says that intrabeam radiotherapy should be offered to NHS patients so long as doctors:

  • explain the full range of treatment options plus their associated risks and benefits
  • explain less is known about the long term outcomes of treatment with Intrabeam compared to standard radiotherapy
  • enter details about all of their breast cancer patients having treatment with the Intrabeam Radiotherapy System on to a national register
  • audit, review and document clinical outcomes locally and consider the relationship between outcomes and patients’ characteristics.

Informed decisions

Jackie Harris, one of our Clinical Nurse Specialists, said: ‘It’s vital all women have access to clear information about the benefits and risks of this and other ways of delivering radiotherapy to allow them to make an informed choice.’

Read her full statement to the press.

What will happen now?

The draft guidance is now out for public consultation, which runs until Friday 15 August 2014. Final guidance is due in November 2014. Until then, local NHS bodies are expected to make their own funding decisions for new treatments.

We’re here to help

Anyone who has questions about this treatment, or any other breast cancer or breast health concerns, can call our free, confidential Helpline on 0808 800 6000.

Post date: 25 July 2014

Commenting on draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published today (Friday 25 July 2014) on the use of intrabeam radiotherapy as a treatment option for people with early stage breast cancer, Jackie Harris, Clinical Nurse Specialist at Breast Cancer Care said:

“Intrabeam radiotherapy is another exciting development and could dramatically improve the quality of life of some women diagnosed with breast cancer, but there is not yet evidence of its long term benefits.

“It’s also worth remembering single dose intrabeam radiotherapy will only be suitable for a small number of women having breast conserving surgery. It’s vital all women have access to clear information about the benefits and risks of this and other ways of delivering radiotherapy to allow them to make an informed choice.

“Anyone with questions about breast cancer treatment can call our free, confidential Helpline on 0808 800 6000.”


For media enquiries please contact:

Sophie Softley Pierce
020 7960 3505
Out of office hours: 0770 290 1334

Post date: 25 July 2014

Being told you are going to have breast cancer surgery can be overwhelming. Going into hospital for an operation may be a new experience for you.

You can prepare for your admission into hospital by taking a look at our updated booklet Your operation and recovery. It includes tips on what to take with you when you go into hospital, such as comfortable clothes and underwear. Also, information about tests you may need before surgery.

After-effects of surgery

Everyone reacts differently to surgery, but most people recover well with few major side effects. Our booklet Your operation and recovery lists some of the common after-effects from surgery and has practical information on coping.

Some common problems that can occur are pain and discomfort, nausea, bruising and swelling, wound infection, and lymphoedema. Lymphoedema is swelling of the arm, hand or breast/chest area caused by a build-up of lymph fluid. If you'd like information about reducing your risk, see our Reducing the risk of lymphoedema booklet. Talk to your specialist team or breast care nurse if you have any concerns about the after-effects of surgery. 

Recovering from surgery

Once you get home from hospital, you can try to do a little more physical activity each day. You should be able to get back to doing most of your normal activities within a few weeks of your operation, but this will vary from person to person. Pace yourself if you can; for example, by taking up offers of help with shopping, transport, childcare or housework.

Most people experience fatigue at some point during or after their treatment and it can last for weeks or even months. Gentle exercise can help improve your fatigue, even if it feels as though this would be unlikely. For ideas, you can watch the video above or download it from iTunes. You can get more information about coping with fatigue from your breast care nurse, or by calling our free Helpline on 0808 800 600 (Text Relay 18001) or using the Ask the Nurse email service.

Download Your operation and recovery or order a free printed copy.

Post date: 18 July 2014