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Here to help! Dr Vickki Harmer shares Invaluable Advice for those Affected by or Concerned About Breast Cancer

Do you know anyone affected by breast cancer?

Whether yes or no, read on.

This sort blog could save your or someone you love's life. Or, make someone's journey through breast cancer easier.

It's breast cancer awareness month and when Vickki got in touch I was over the moon! 

You see, somehow I was lucky enough to win my battle with breast cancer. Many I met weren't so lucky xxx. I LOVE talking to those of you who get in touch with your own experiences. But I can only talk from my experience.

So when Vickki introduced herself as a highly experienced medical expert in the field of breast cancer and breast care. And, I discovered she is just the just the kindest most, most giving, approachable lady my lucky stars arrived again.

And I couldn't be more grateful she has so very kindly offered to:

  1. Provide YOU with the latest information about breast care.

  2. Offer herself as a personal point of contact should you have any concerns or questions around breast cancer!
Just wow!

I feel really privileged to be able to bring you such an incredible lady.

So please do take a few minutes out of your day and read what Vickki has to share with us. So, you can at least be more breast-aware or feel more confident about going to an appointment. There's no doubt that regular checking and acting early saves lives.

And if you do want to talk to her, be that for tips and tricks for getting through your journey, or if you have concerns, simply email info@highbornlondon.com and I can put you in touch.

Over to you Vickki... 

Hi!

I’m Vickki and I’m a breast care consultant nurse and head of nursing for breast services at Imperial College NHS Trust.

I’m also a Trustee for Against Breast Cancer - HIGHBORN’s partner charity - and I want to give you the opportunity to chat with me or message me any questions you might have about breast cancer, breast screening or being breast aware.

I’ve been supporting patients and their families for more than 20 years - I’m always looking for new ways of helping people, especially during these very challenging times. So please do get in touch - I’m always happy to talk!

I know this might not be relevant to you BUT you might find some of the info below useful for a friend or family member - or simply just being aware of the latest information could be handy. 

Sadly, the number of people who asked to be referred took a nosedive during the pandemic – some were frightened to come along or go to GPs, maybe in case they caught the virus and brought it home to loved ones, or some didn’t want to add to our workload…

We have of course had to make some changes to services and treatment to keep everyone safe, BUT we’ve never stopped seeing and diagnosing people with breast cancer. It’s great to see people starting to return to clinics - and more people are reaching out for help and advice - but we still have a long way to go with general awareness and how to check yourself regularly. 

I lead a team of breast nurse specialists – we are in clinics where people are diagnosed with breast cancer, giving information and support to them and their families throughout treatment; we are with patients and their families every step of the way.

I am also in charge of service improvements so am constantly thinking of ways to better serve patients and the people they are close to. I thought it might be useful to share with you the common questions we are asked and also point you in the direction of some useful resources.

Do remember, if you or anyone you know is worried about getting advice or visiting their breast clinic, please get in touch - I might be able to give some much-needed reassurance or guidance.

Where’s a good place to start for finding out more about breast cancer and how to improve my own self-care?

I made this short video a while ago to help people learn about the signs, symptoms and risk factors related to breast cancer.

It can be a daunting and overwhelming area to explore - I’ve kept the video focused on the main things you should know to help improve your awareness and self-care. Hopefully you will find the info easy to digest and easy for you to take away some actions. Even if that just means you know what to look out for or how to help a friend who might have concerns.

Being aware and acting early has a huge part to play.

>>> Breast cancer: signs, symptoms & risk factors

What measures have been taken to make sure breast care services and clinics are safe?

We’ve taken all sorts of measures to make sure both staff and patients walking through our doors are safe. As you’d expect with all public places, you are given a mask and asked to sanitise your hands on entry – much like a lot of shops are doing.

We also have to ask people to come alone to their appointments so less people are about. We have adjusted the number of people we see in clinics and distanced the chairs in waiting areas to help ensure social distancing. The areas are cleaned down at the start and throughout the day – really, really thoroughly with medical-grade wipes and products. All the staff wear masks and there are see-through protective panels at the reception desks.

If you are seen in a clinic, the healthcare professional will be in PPE. If you need a scan, all equipment is wiped down in between use. 

What advice would you give to people who are waiting to hear about delayed appointments or worried about visiting their breast clinic?

I’d say please make contact and pop along to your appointment with confidence. Staff are always happy to answer any questions and offer you support wherever you are in your journey. 

They’re eager to meet you and help you. What everyone is trying to suss out is how to smile with a mask on! So we are all practicing with making our eyes smile to help put you at ease.

 

 

Comments

Diane on November 02 2020 at 04:55PM

Hi, I had breast cancer 12 years ago & have just had the news that it’s not completely gone & I have secondary breast cancer in my bones. Am devastated, just waiting for my first appointment with oncology to discuss treatment 😢

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