Everyone with secondary breast cancer should have a specialist nurse

PUBLISHED ON: 21 April 2017

Mandy was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer two years ago when she was 47. Since being diagnosed she has had support from Tracy, a secondary breast cancer nurse at her hospital.

Nearly half of all hospitals are failing to provide specialist support for people living with this incurable condition, which means thousands of women aren't getting the care and support they need to live well with the disease for as long as possible. Mandy shares her story and explains the importance of specialist nursing support for women with secondary breast cancer.

An image of Mandy and her partner

I was devastated when I was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer

Totally devastated. I thought, ‘I’ve done all the treatment and now here we are back to it again.’ They said they can’t cure it so I had to learn to live with it. It’s always there in the background.

I was introduced to Tracy when I was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer and told that the aim would be to keep it from spreading for as long as possible.

Tracy’s support has been unlimited. She makes me feel important even though she has so many other people to give her time to as well as myself.

I get anxious in the lead up to scans

I have scans every 3 months and I do get anxious waiting for the results. I know she is on the end of the phone and I can meet her if I need to. If I am really worried, she can help me get scanned earlier.

During my last round of chemotherapy in October, she became a bigger part of our lives. My blood was so badly affected by the treatment; I ended up speaking to her 2-3 times a week. I had to have lots of blood and platelet transfusions and so she’d arrange all of that. She would discuss the blood test results and formulate a plan. Tracy also visited me when I was really unwell and admitted to hospital, this meant alot  to me.

Without Tracy it would never have been as easy and far more stressful. The consultants are just really busy and you also wouldn’t deal with the same person every time, so there is no continuity.

My breast cancer nurse is there for my family as well

Special people become nurses and work in the medical profession, Tracy is one of those special people. She is amazingly dedicated to her ladies.

And it’s not just support for me; it’s support for the family as well. She is there for all of us. My husband has spoken to Tracey and asked her things. He knows that he could ring her if he wanted to. My two sons could contact her without a doubt as well.

'We stop women with secondary breast cancer feeling forgotten.' - Read Tracy's story

Without a specialist nurse this would have been a lot harder to deal with

I know if I am worried or need to ask anything she is always there for me. Sometimes I think of a question after I have seen my oncologist instead of worrying or keeping it till I see him the next time I can ask Tracy.

I’ve spoken to people at other hospitals and they don’t have the same support. I have heard people say they feel overlooked; they feel very lonely and isolated.

I feel very sorry for them not having that support network because it’s so important. It’s a hard enough thing to deal with and go through, without having to deal with it on your own.

People may have their family and friends but you do still need medical support as well. It’s a real shame that everyone doesn’t have that.

Help us make sure that every woman with secondary breast cancer gets the care and support they deserve from their hospital.

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