• "It's important to remember, there is no one thing to say when someone tells you that they have breast cancer. I've learnt it's a question of what not to say. A patient once told me that their neighbour screamed when she told her she had breast cancer! If your mother, sister, wife, aunt, friend - whomever - is ready to talk, simply ask "Is there anything I can do right now?"
  • "25 years in Oncology and breast care at King Edward's has taught me and how strong and resilient women are. I've had the pleasure to meet and engage with the most fascinating patients. Yes, the improvement in treatments and surgery techniques have made groundbreaking differences in breast cancer care, but our camaraderie as women will always be the greatest beacon of comfort and warmth"
  • "For fluid build up after surgery, there are lymphodema specialist nurses who can provide massage or exercises.It's particularly useful to massage and gently move the body in healthy circulation. They can also give advice about how to look after the affected area, e.g. if it's arms or hands, avoid tight clothes/jewellery/wear gloves when gardening to avoid infection risk etc. Your surgeon can advise whether the fluid needs draining or not"
  • "I don't think that women are warned enough about fatigue and how debilitating it is when you have chemo. Also "chemo brain" which I've mentioned in the book, can be a problem particularly for women who want to work during treatment. It certainly realigns your priorities regarding your general wellbeing"
  • "There are specific exercises that physiotherapists will recommend after surgery. It can become a very individual routine depending on symptoms and diagnosis, but generally movement is crucial to keeping mind and body in sync. As for general exercises, low impact exercise, walking, yoga etc. are all useful. I would say, most women I've treated began their treatment promising to keep up with their exercises, but gradually the fatigue took over. It's important to know that's OK. One women did play tennis all the way through but that was an exception. And there are often exceptions and you must play up to how you feel. Do what you love, even if it is a little every day. Another woman I treated, for example, was a keen runner and despite my reservations, decided to go for a short jog but suffered for days after. It was just too much for her body. Women learn very quickly and intuitively to listen to their bodies"
  • "I was originally inspired by a patient who wanted a book about cancer - she didn't own a computer, and didn't want to go online to find out about breast cancer, she just wanted something she could hold in her hands and read. Although I initially worked with patients with all types of cancer (and there are over 200 different kinds) my male patients didn't want to talk about being ill - they are prone to say "everything is fine" and they certainly didn't want to fill in the surveys. With breast cancer - my patients, being all female, naturally wanted to communicate and were more than willing to share their feelings and personal stories, not just to unburden themselves, but also to offer help and advice to other women. I never thought I would finish the book because there were so many personal stories - in fact i'm already thinking about the next set of stories for book number two"
  • "The initial reaction to being diagnosed with breast cancer is often "I'm going to have chemotherapy, lose all my hair, have a mastectomy, and then have to come back for more chemotherapy". However, because diagnoses and treatments have progressed so vastly in the past 20 years, the experience can actually be much more positive than this and people' attitudes should reflect this and be more positive. As far as attitudes towards cancer per se are concerned, it really depends which type of the many types of cancer you have. They are all so different.
  • "Women must know that cancer is not always life limiting."
  • "Here at King Edward VII's I met a 35 year old women with two young children. She had been referred for a routine check up and came during her work lunchtime to be told she had breast cancer. We sat together and talked as she processed this unwelcome and shocking news."
  • "The dedicated Breast Centre - one of our centres of excellence at King Edward VII's allows me to be supported by the best consultants, radiologists and nursing care in the business - all in one place, immediately accessible. This, combined with our cutting edge technology and the culture of kindness which King Edward's is renowned for, means that I have everything I need to do the best possible job to care for my patients."

One Step at a Time is out now

Nurse Alison Bailey

Nurse Alison Bailey

The breast centre at King Edward VII's Hospital provides a full breast care service for anyone worried about their breast health or needing treatment for breast cancer. The Hospital has brought together an expert team of specialist consultants, breast care nurses and other clinical professionals and designed a service that provides wrap around care, meeting all physical and emotional needs. The fully integrated service ensures visiting women receive the right assessment, diagnosis, and treatment as fast as possible.


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