My first impression of Nina was of a rather shy person and not feeling very confident. Her diagnosis had rather ‘knocked her for six’. I was matched with Nina because we are of a similar age, and I would like to think it was also because the coordinator felt I could help give Nina the support she needed to face the future with confidence.
I was able to accompany Nina to her 6-week follow-up from her mastectomy. She was given the news that she’d require further chemotherapy and possibly radiotherapy. This was devastating news for her because she knew it meant she would lose her hair and her immediate reaction on receiving this news was ‘You’ve taken my breast and now you’re going to take my hair too’.
There were a few tears but the Consultant was very patient and understanding and after re-explaining the programme of planned treatment he left us in the care of a senior nurse who was equally understanding.
I told Nina I’d also be there to support her through her treatment. Nina was aware of how her future treatment would affect her because she had had a course of chemotherapy prior to her admission for surgery.
On our journey home from hospital we chatted about the future and her treatment and by the time we got home she’d become a little more philosophical about things. I kept in touch with Nina in the following days.
When she received her first appointment for chemotherapy I offered to take her and wait until she had finished her treatment to bring her home again but Nina was quite adamant that she wanted to go it alone so I withdrew quietly but kept in touch making sure all was well. I know that Nina has had the support of her family and friends, has used public transport to get about and has even been driving her car.
Having finished her chemo Nina accepted my offer to take her out for coffee and good chat. Since then she has started her course of radiotherapy so we’ve yet to fulfil her wish to go shopping.
I phoned Nina recently to get an update on her progress and to arrange an outing. She told me she has now finished her course of radiotherapy, she’s feeling well, is still a little sore from the treatment but has accepted this and feels sure it will get easier as time passes. She’s recently been out on the bus and enjoyed being out for the day on her own. This shows that she really has become a very confident and self-sufficient lady. I’ve arranged to pick Nina up and plan to spend a happy day with her listening, shopping and entertaining her. I feel she deserves it after such a traumatic cancer experience, an experience that came as a bolt from the blue.
Marion’s view and Nina’s story can be found along with other inspiring advocacy stories in our publication Every Step of the Way which can be accessed here
Marie McWilliams, OPAAL