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Image of the breast cancer screening unit at Castle Hill Hospital. The unit white and decorated with the NHS logo and 'Humberside Breast Screening Unit' title

Local Cancer Champion encourages others to ‘go and get checked’ after attending a breast screening appointment

By | Awareness and Early Diagnosis, Cancer Champions | No Comments

“Go and get checked. The staff know it is a frightening time, but be assured they are equipped to deal with your fears and help you every step of the way.”

After recently attending a breast screening appointment at Castle Hill Hospital in Hull, Jennie Salisbury, a 54 year old wife, mother, nanna, and Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Champion is now urging others to do the same after hearing concerns that the fear of Covid-19 may be deterring people from attending.

Jennie said: I received a letter inviting me to a breast screening appointment back in January. Initially I was a little hesitant about going because I have been anxious to venture out during lockdown, but then I remembered the promise I made to my sister, who died from breast cancer, that I would never miss an appointment.

The national breast screening programme invites women between the ages of 50 and 70 to have their breasts screened every three years. At the start of the pandemic, the programme was temporarily paused across Humber, Coast and Vale however, the service has now resumed and safety measures have been put in place to protect both staff and patients.

Jennie said: “I noticed a lot of safety measures in place at the breast screening unit. Hand sanitisers were available and there was a lot of distance between the chairs. When called through for my appointment, the Technician was busy sanitising the equipment and during every part of the procedure she sanitised her hands. The whole appointment took 15 mins and within half an hour I was back home.”

Photo of Jennie. Jennie has blonde hair and wears glasses. She looking at the camera and smiling. Jennie is wearing a black jumper.

Jennie was pleased to receive all clear results within a week of her appointment and is now advising other women to attend, when invited. Jennie said: “My advice is to go and get checked. The staff know it is frightening times but be assured they are equipped to deal with your fears and talk to you every step of the way. Having previously attended Cancer Champion training, I know how important it is to attend cancer screening appointments and I hope that by sharing my experience, other women will feel assured about attending screening during COVID-19.”

In this video, Hull CCG GP Dr Amy Oehring explains why attending a breast screening is so important:

To learn more about the early signs and symptoms of cancer, sign up for a free 90 minute Cancer Champion awareness session or click here to find out more.

Free ‘Cancer Demystified’ Webinars for Secondary Care Professionals

By | Cancer Alliance | No Comments

Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance is pleased to offer free Cancer Demystified webinar training for staff working in cancer services at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust.

Cancer Demystified training aims to provide both clinical and non-clinical colleagues with a wider understanding of cancer and the associated terminology. The sessions, which can be accessed online and last around 60 minutes, help build confidence to have potentially difficult conversations about cancer with those affected by it. Each webinar covers a different topic, from the staging and grading of cancer and how chemotherapy works, to in-depth descriptions of different cancer types and more. A link to the full list of modules can be found here.

The free sessions are available to Trust staff working in cancer services until 31st March 2022.

For more information and to sign up, email admin.hcvcanceralliance@nhs.net.

Image shows two people sat on seperate benches, looking at each other whilst in conversation. They are surrounded by trees and grass.

People living with and beyond cancer are helping to improve cancer services by completing a new NHS Quality of Life Survey.

By | Living with and Beyond Cancer | No Comments

People living with and beyond cancer across the UK are helping to improve cancer services by completing a new NHS Quality of Life Survey.

Recognising that quality of life (QoL) outcomes are as important to patients as survival, the QOL survey asks people affected by cancer how they’re doing. Answers from participants can be related to their cancer diagnosis and treatment, other illnesses, or other things happening in their life.

Since its launch in September 2020, over 180 people across Humber, Coast and Vale have completed the survey and are therefore playing their part to ensure the information collected fully represents our local population.

To highlight the importance of understanding what quality of life means to people living with and beyond cancer, NHS England has released two new videos:

Barbara Griffin, a Trustee of local cancer support group York Breast Friends, features in the video and said: “To me, quality of life means being fit and healthy and being able to do the things that I want to do, and also having family and friends around me who also have good health, both physical and mental.”

Initially, people who have been diagnosed with breast, prostate or colorectal cancer will receive the survey around 18 months after their diagnosis. People with all other cancer types will then be included from July 2021 onwards.

To find out more about the new Cancer Quality of Life survey, please click here.

Carolynne, leader of the Myeloma North Lincs support group. She has short white hair, is wearing glasses and smiling at the camera.

Carolynne’s story

By | Living with and Beyond Cancer | No Comments

After attending Myeloma Support Group meetings in Lincoln, Carolynne decided Scunthorpe needed a group of its own, where those affected by Myeloma and other blood cancers could chat about their experience. Here, she tells us more about herself and the group.

After attending the Lincoln SMYLLE Haematology Support Group meetings, I realised something was missing from my local community. Although the meetings in Lincoln were excellent, a more local group would mean members could talk about news from their local hospitals and services.

Carolynne, leader of the Myeloma North Lincs support group. She has short white hair, is wearing glasses and smiling at the camera.

Carolynne’s advice is to stay positive and try to enjoy every day.

I went along to a couple of Myeloma UK patient information days in Leeds, which inspired me to inform local patients about the information and help

available from the charity. Soon after, the North Lincs Myeloma support group was formed.

We are an informal, friendly group, where members can come along to exchange news and experiences, as well as offer friendship and support to one another. I take the role of passing on any news items from Myeloma UK. They supply us with lots of different booklets on living well with myeloma, help for carers, as well as news about new drugs and trials.

At the moment, we only have a handful of members, as we find it difficult to get the message out, but we welcome anyone affected by myeloma to our meetings, whether that’s patients, carers, or family members. We would also be happy to welcome anyone with other blood cancers. I find our group members are very cheerful and supportive; even funny most of the time!

Many of us are required to shield at the moment, which means we can’t meet up for the social get-togethers that we enjoyed before the coronavirus pandemic. We have to stay safe, but shielding can be frustrating, so we try to keep in touch and stay cheerful. At the moment, we have a monthly virtual meeting, which is organised by Pat Chennells, Macmillan Information Facilitator for Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust. We also keep in touch via phone calls and WhatsApp.

Carolynne’s Myeloma experience

I was pregnant with my second child at the age of 28 when results from a routine blood test showed high levels of some proteins in my blood. Initially, the doctors suspected something was wrong with the baby, but I was then diagnosed with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS).

On average, around 1% of people with MGUS go on to develop multiple myeloma. The doctors typically estimate a person’s risk of progressing using a test that measures the amounts of certain markers in the blood.

Since 2015, I’ve been on ‘watch and wait’ as my condition has remained fairly stable. I haven’t had any treatment since receiving Velcade injections for 3 months in 2015.

I am a very content person and enjoy life with my husband and family, who have always been very supportive. I have four grandsons and I love gardening, nature, walking, and being environmentally friendly. Gardening certainly keeps me happy and positive. If you sow, tend, or plant things, you are naturally optimistic for the future!

I will be 69 this year and one message I would like to send is that Myeloma is very different for everyone. Just because you’ve received a diagnosis, it doesn’t mean the worst. Stay positive and try to enjoy every day.

Looking for a support group?

If you’re someone who has been or knows someone diagnosed with cancer and are in need of support, head to our Support Group Directory. You’ll find local groups like Carolynne’s where others like you and healthcare professionals can help.

Christine, a pancreatic cancer survivor, looks into the camera and smiles. She is wearing a red sparkly long-sleeved top and has brown cropped hair.

Christine’s story

By | Awareness and Early Diagnosis, Living with and Beyond Cancer | No Comments

After experiencing persistent symptoms that weren’t normal for her, Christine was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Here, she tells her story and explains her advice for anyone experiencing something similar.

Towards the end of January 2019, my entire body began to feel itchy. I tried everything to stop it, from soothing sprays to creams and antihistamine tablets,  but nothing worked. I wasn’t in any pain anywhere, but I felt maybe a little more tired.

On 1st February at around 3 am, I couldn’t stand the itching anymore, and asked my husband to take me to A&E, where I’d hoped they’d give me a strong antihistamine injection or some tablets to help. However, the young doctor who saw me insisted on doing a blood test, which I think saved my life.

Christine, a pancreatic cancer survivor, looks into the camera and smiles. She is wearing a red sparkly long-sleeved top and has brown cropped hair.

Christine credits a blood test in A&E for saving her life.

After waiting a while, I received my results. The doctors said there may be a blocked liver duct, but I’d need more tests to confirm this. I was allowed to go home but would return for CT scans and MRI appointments. On Monday morning, I felt ‘out of sorts’ and fainted at home. Martin, my husband, took me back to the hospital, where they kept me in for 5 days to do some tests.

Over the next few weeks, I had various other tests done. I also started being jaundiced and my urine was much darker than usual. It was evident something was seriously wrong, so an appointment was made to see the consultant at Castle Hill.

The consultant at Castle Hill confirmed I had pancreatic cancer and was faced with two options. I could either have a Whipple’s procedure, which would give me at least another five years, or do nothing, which would leave me with five to eight months.

I returned for further scans the next day and would be back in hospital on the 13th March for surgery on the 14th. I brought an overnight bag with me for my scans, so the consultant decided to keep me in until the next day for my pre-op tests. However, whilst on the ward, I needed rehydrating, and was kept in the hospital until my operation.

My operation, which required two surgeons, lasted for 10 hours and I spent 10 days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) until finally arriving home on the 5th April.I felt isolated without the ward staff but was very well looked after by Martin and by friends who would do anything for us. Some kind friends had given us a hospital bed to use at home, and Martin made a bedroom for me in the dining room. I actually stayed downstairs until January 2020!

When I left the hospital, I was given a prescription of Creon tablets, which is a medication to replace the enzymes usually made by the pancreas to break down food. I have to take these tablets with everything I eat.

I also began chemotherapy in June 2019, which I had for six months. I recovered well from this and my main problem since has been with my digestive system. I have learned to live with this, however, and I am hoping to speak to the dietician again to see if anything can be done to ease my digestive problems.

I am now 20 months on from the major surgery and delighted to say I am in remission.

I still see my oncologist every four months to have my bloods checked, and then every six months for a CT scan.

If anyone has anything ‘different’ happening to them, i.e. it’s not normal for you, seek professional advice. Although it pays to talk things over with family and friends and look online,  you can’t believe everything you’re told or see on the internet. Speak to your GP as they have the experience and knowledge to help you best. Staying positive helped me with my recovery, so I’d always recommend that!

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer can include:

  • the whites of your eyes or your skin turn yellow (jaundice), you may also have itchy skin, darker pee and paler poo than usual
  • loss of appetite or losing weight without trying to
  • feeling tired or having no energy
  • a high temperature, or feeling hot or shivery

For more information, go to https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pancreatic-cancer/.

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