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Unique service for breast cancer patients post treatment

A unique service for breast cancer patients is being launched in Northern Lincolnshire.

A new breast care survivorship team has been set up to give local men and women additional support after their initial treatment and to improve the quality of follow-up services.

Nicola Dixon and Sue Cooper, breast care clinical nurse specialists, will see patients after their year one mammogram and will be offering a service tailored to each individual patient’s needs.

Patients will be referred to the service by their consultant and at the initial clinic appointment they will be assessed and have an individual care plan developed and agreed with the breast care nurse.

The care plan will include detailed information about signs and symptoms to be aware of; long term side effects of treatments, how to contact the breast care survivorship team should they have any worries or concerns, healthy lifestyle advice and information about local health and wellbeing sessions. A copy of the care plan will be given to the patient and their GP.

Nicola said: “We will be their single point of contact once they’ve finished treatment and had their year one mammogram for the next four years.  It’s a complete shift in how breast cancer follow-up care is managed.

“We’ve done a lot of research and spoken with other trusts and as far as we can tell we are the only area in the country to offer a breast specific follow-up and survivorship programme with designated breast care survivorship clinical nurse specialists. Usually the follow-up and survivorship workload is an additional duty for breast care nurses.

“As we’re focusing purely on breast cancer we’ll be able to offer specific advice on dealing with the side effects from breast cancer treatments.”

In preparing the programme the duo have spoken to local breast cancer survivors about what they would have liked to have had on offer while they were going through their follow-up treatment.

Sue added: “Breast cancer patients get a lot of support after their initial diagnosis and it can sometimes be quite overwhelming with all the information they are given, but after they have completed their initial treatment and their hospital appointments reduce it can feel quite frightening.

“We’ll be focusing on their recovery and overall health and wellbeing by identifying their individual needs which may include social, psychological or sexual concerns. We’ll be providing psychological support and offering information and advice in addition to signposting to other health professionals and services, with the ultimate aim to ensure patients feel supported and equipped to self-manage their own future health and wellbeing ”

It’s particularly good news for Scunthorpe patients who would usually have to travel to Grimsby for some of their follow up clinic appointments as Sue and Nicola will be offering appointments in Scunthorpe too.

The introduction of the team will also free up consultant and breast care clinical nurse specialist time, as they’ll be taking over follow-up appointments, allowing their colleagues to spend more time supporting newly diagnosed patients.

As part of the programme Nicky and Sue have also linked in with local leisure centres and are working with occupational therapists and physiotherapists at the Trust to develop exercise programmes specifically for breast cancer patients.  

The team have organised two exercise taster days for local people who have had treatment for breast cancer which will be held at leisure centres in Grimsby and Scunthorpe.

Sue said “The aim is to provide an exclusive, supported and fun event tailored purely for breast cancer patients to introduce them to a wide range of exercises in the hope that they will be inspired to take up physical activity to improve their overall health and wellbeing following their treatment.”

The first event has been arranged for Monday September 21 at Grimsby Leisure Centre from 9am to 2pm. There will also be an event in Scunthorpe on Monday October 12 at Riddings Pool from 10.30am to 1.30pm.

To book onto one of the sessions or to find out more call Sue or Nicky on (01472) 874111 extension 2397.

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