Following my 5 year check at the Mermaid recently and being discharged with only the need for annual mammograms, I wanted to write to you to say thank you for the wonderful care I received.
At the time of my diagnosis I was very frightened about the immediate future and prognosis as I was only 38 and an experienced nurse that knew too much! On my first appointment you approached me in a human, empathetic way and spent time explaining everything in a kind and thoughtful manner. (not like some of the consultants I have worked with who could be blunt and abrupt!) You made sure I was clear about the path ahead and allowed Ian ( my husband) and I to ask questions so we could make plans and be sure about any decisions that had to be made, with no pressure for the time taken even though you were running over your clinic slot.
My care as an inpatient at Hayle was second to none, I could not have asked for better care both physically and emotionally. The nurses on the ward along with Jo and Sarah Zee were extremely caring and professional and were always willing to listen and give excellent advice. I also appreciated seeing you on your days off over the Easter weekend when you just 'popped in' to make sure me and a couple of other ladies were ok following surgery, something I am sure not many Consultants do. ( If any )
My visits to the Mermaid centre were made more pleasant by the calm surroundings, the cup of tea whilst I waited and the general cheerfulness and helpfulness of all staff involved in the flow of care through the department. My family and I were treated with kindness and respect as well as thoughtfully having my privacy and dignity maintained at all times whether waiting in the cubicle to be seen, being examined or having a mamogram. Funnily enough you get kind of 'used' to showing people your boobs in the end, at my recent mamogram I was complimented on your handiwork by the radiographer and of course I completely agree with her, I am extremely happy with my new boobs.
The icing on the cake so to speak was the surgical nipple formation and tattooing - which originally I wasn't too bothered about as I was just glad to have a reconstruction and cancer free boob. But now having experienced the end result I realise the massive contribution towards body image and psychological healing it has made to me and many other patients. We are so lucky to have the facility available here in Cornwall.
Thank you for all your care, kindness and excellent surgical expertise, your manner and approach made all the difference to an emotional and stressful experience, you are a wonderful asset to the Breast Care Service in Cornwall. I am sure the breast cancer patients in Cornwall past, present and future will feel the same as I do.
Dear Mr Brown
Following my visit to you last week, I would like to say thank you to you, Imran and your dedicated team of doctors and nurses who have cared for me over the past five years. The treatment I have had has been exemplary, as has the care shown by you and your wonderful team. I feel lucky to have been one of the first women in Cornwall to have undergone this type of reconstruction, often the perception of Cornwall is that of being a bit behind the times, therefore I am extremely proud to have played a very small part in what has been achieved in the field of breast care.
What you are not aware of is that the day I was diagnosed was the day my daughter gave birth to her first baby. My husband and I left the Mermaid Centre that day reeling from the shock of the news, and walked around to the Maternity Unit where we were overjoyed to see our new granddaughter. It was a day of very mixed emotions, we alternated between joy and fear when we got home and tried to process everything that had happened. I think a couple of bottles of wine were consumed. It was also difficult trying to keep the news from my daughter for as long as we could so that she could enjoy the first couple of weeks with her baby.
Shortly afterwards I had my first appointment with you and, from the moment you sat with me and told me everything was going to be fine, I never doubted it. The reconstruction work I have had done and the care shown by you, Imran and your team has been amazing. During my time in hospital for the operation and all the follow up care, I have always been treated in a lovely, professional and dignified manner, yet still felt relaxed enough to have a laugh or two ( it's not an everyday occurrence having your breasts photographed from all angles whilst chatting about your holidays).
I will be writing to the Chief Executive and will copy you in, as so often we hear negative stories of the NHS and I feel it's important to reinforce the good news. I feel privileged to have received the treatment and follow-up care that I have, so thank you again and I look forward to seeing you in a year for my reconstruction check-up.
As a footnote, I recently took that same granddaughter together with her younger sister to the swimming pool and as I battled to get them dried and dressed in the communal changing room, wearing only a towel around my waist, it occurred to me that I'd passed the 'changing room test' with flying colours.
Mr Iain Brown
At the beginning of April 2012, I was given the news that I had breast cancer. This was completely unexpected and was picked up because of the Mermaid Centre’s breast screening programme. It was a great shock.
I was fortunate enough to be referred to Iain Brown and his team. Iain took time to make sure that I understood the issues that I was facing and developed a personalised treatment plan that took into account my own circumstances. These include running my own business, taking care of my father who has dementia and participating in my sport of gig rowing!
With the expertise and support from Iain and his team, I was able to research relevant information and ask questions; go back and double check when things became confusing and be given guidance and support. Their patience was extraordinary.
This meant that I could be fully prepared both mentally and physically for surgery that would be redesigning part of my body. Scary stuff for someone who had not been in hospital for a procedure since they were 10!
I had a wide local excision and double mammaplasty requiring complex microsurgery, with sentinel lymph node biopsy and two nights in hospital. By the time of the surgery (less than 4 weeks from the confirmed diagnosis), I trusted the team to do the work, had a fantastic anaesthetist and felt fine when I can round from the operation.
Such excellent care enabled me to make a fast recovery. Post op checks from Iain meant that I was very reassured after the procedure and on the road to recovery. It was a transformative experience and I cannot thank Iain and his team enough. I was rowing again 6 weeks after the operation, competing 11 weeks later and some 18 weeks later competed in the Great London River Race – a 23-mile river marathon, rowing as stroke in temperatures of 24 degrees.
Cornwall is extremely fortunate to have this leading onco-plastic surgeon and the Mermaid Centre. I feel very lucky to have been treated by this great team. Thank you.