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Class helps Lanarkshire patients move forward after cancer

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 15:07 GMT on Wednesday, 8th May, 2013.
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A LANARKSHIRE woman who fought off breast cancer is urging women elsewhere in Lanarkshire to attend a class aimed at helping people recovery emotionally, as they head towards the end of their treatment. 

Susan Aitchison from East Kilbride was shocked to discover that she had breast cancer in April 2012. Now, though, is encouraging other women to attend the Breast Cancer Care supported NHS Lanarkshire course, which helps support breast cancer patients towards the end of their hospital treatment.

Diagnosed, in April 2012, Susan said: “I had gone to the doctor about something completely different, as I was leaving I asked her to look at a lump I had found. I was referred to hospital where I saw a consultant and had a mammogram.

“I was convinced that it wasn’t anything sinister and didn’t think anything of it when they told me that they wanted to do a biopsy. In fact, I was going to get my hair done that day and I was lying there hoping that they would hurry up!

“Two days later, when I was sitting in the waiting room to get my results, I was looking around at couples holding hands. I mentioned to my husband that I thought that they must be expecting bad news.

“However, when I went in, it ended up being me who got that news; ‘I’m really sorry to tell you that you have cancer’.”

After surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Susan finished her treatment in November, although Susan said she felt that “something wasn’t right.”

She said: “After I had finished my treatment, people kept commenting on how good I must be feeling. But, I knew that something wasn’t right. You think you should be feeling amazing, but it isn’t like that. I felt like a security blanket had been pulled away.

“When you have spent so long being focused on your treatment, you suddenly feel adrift when it is all over. You get feelings that you think you shouldn’t have.

“I saw the course advertised and knew it was what I was looking for. It couldn’t come quick enough for me and I saw it as a life line.”

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The Moving Forward partnership programme runs for four weeks and provides information, support and professional guidance on how to cope with and adjust to life after treatment; bringing people with breast cancer together, and attempting to improve people’s wellbeing by increasing awareness of the benefits of healthy eating, exercise and relaxation.

Commenting, Angela Harris, services manager for Breast Cancer Care, said: “There are 15 places on each ‘Moving Forward’ programme and it is open to people who have had a breast cancer diagnosis within the last two years.

“The programme runs for four weeks and covers a range of topics of interest to patients approaching the end of their hospital based treatments.

“It is an opportunity to meet other people in similar situations and share experiences of how breast cancer has impacted their lives.”

Susan said that she has recommended the course to “anyone” she was met with breast cancer and says that the course has helped her to “move forward”.

Susan said: “I have recommended the course to anyone I meet who has breast cancer. It has helped me move forward with my life. It has literally been a god send to me. I was so excited about going and afterwards I felt so much better.

“It’s not in any way obtrusive. You don’t have to speak if you don’t want to, but you feel so comfortable there that you can put in your own tuppence worth.”

Staff from NHS Lanarkshire give information on breast care and answer patient questions on the different types of care that is given during cancer treatment.

Mhairi Simpson, nurse consultant in cancer care for NHS Lanarkshire, added: “These classes enhance the support that is already available locally. It provides information talks delivered by NHS experts in the field and gives an opportunity for informal peer support.

“Susan’s story demonstrates the benefits of this course and how it can have a positive impact on patients’ lives.”

The Moving Forward programme begins in Lanarkshire on 29th May at Chatelherault Country Park in Hamilton, and anyone looking to book a place on the course should email or telephone 0141 353 8330.

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