ST Luke’s Hospice, in collaboration with Basildon and Thurrock University Hospital’s Breast Unit, hosts a monthly support group for people who have secondary breast cancer.
Informing people about this group meeting is important because, unlike primary breast cancer, secondary breast cancer can be treated but it cannot be cured. By attending group meeting people with secondary breast cancer will be able to access support, help and advice each month from professionals and group members in a friendly informal way.
Hilary Gee, Breast Care Nurse at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospital has over 30 years nursing experience and has for the past 18 months been working on the specialist Breast Cancer unit at Basildon Hospital. Hillary explains ‘The aim of treatment for people who have secondary breast cancer is to control and slow down the spread of the disease, relieving symptoms and to give the best possible quality of life for as long as possible. Whilst people will attend regular clinics and Hospital appointments this is the first group of its kind in the area. Hospital clinics and appointments are often quite formal and can be very daunting or overwhelming with the patient being given lots of information in a very short space of time. When at home they may reflect on what has been said to them or be unsure of what it means, or their symptoms may change, the benefit in attending these group meetings is that their worries and issues can be addressed at the patient’s own pace over coffee and cake’’
Cindy Penny is 43, married with a son of 16 and a daughter age 20. Cindy was diagnosed with a breast cancer in April 2012, for which she received treatment; then in 2013 she contracted a brain tumour with secondary breast cancer. Prior to becoming ill Cindy worked as a hairdresser she regularly attends group meetings and explains why ‘’Because of my current situation I live my life one day at a time – I am not able to plan too far ahead because my health or how I will feel from day to day is unknown. In the past few years I have had to learn a lot about my illness and make changes to my life which also affect my family and social life. I look forward to attending these group meetings which has really helped me in many ways.
I meet people who understand me and we are able to speak openly about our situations and how we have all overcome similar problems, both physical and emotional. I am able to ‘be myself’ and not think of needing to ‘be careful’ about what I say, we also have a good laugh together which is important. I am passionate about letting others with secondary breast cancer know about this group because I would like them to benefit from the same support like I have. There is a lot of help and support available but it’s difficult to access or find out about it – this group enables lots of help and support to be readily available’’
Hilary added ‘’Meetings take place in St. Luke’s ‘Activity Out-patient Day room’ on the first Thursday of each month 2pm to 4pm: We are happy for people to just come along. The next meeting is on 1st December. Telephone Hillary on 01268 394727 for further information.