Patient view

‘These nurses have made a terrible situation more bearable’

Jenny Sutcliffe was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer last year and is receiving care and support from the RCNi award-winning Macmillan nurse specialist team at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester.
Caring support

Jenny Sutcliffe was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer last year and is receiving care and support from the RCNi award-winning Macmillan nurse specialist team at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester

I was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in June last year. Unbelievably, my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer in July. We had married that March. Now we both have just months to live.

It's difficult getting through each day, and added to that are the difficulties in supporting each other. I don't know how I would have coped without the amazing support and care of the Macmillan secondary breast cancer nurse specialist team at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester. These nurses make a terrible situation more bearable.

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Jenny Sutcliffe was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer last year and is receiving care and support from the RCNi award-winning Macmillan nurse specialist team at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester


The Macmillan team at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester have provided ‘amazing’ emotional, as well as practical, support. Photo: iStock

I was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in June last year. Unbelievably, my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer in July. We had married that March. Now we both have just months to live. 

It's difficult getting through each day, and added to that are the difficulties in supporting each other. I don't know how I would have coped without the amazing support and care of the Macmillan secondary breast cancer nurse specialist team at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester. These nurses make a terrible situation more bearable.

Actively listen

I cannot put into words how much it means to know that they are there for me, to talk to about real things.

They look at the whole person and they get it. Because they are actively listening they have come to know me as a person.

When I am talking to them, it feels like there is nothing more important than me and my worries and concerns. But they take notice of my whole situation and ask how my husband is doing and if there have been any changes in him.

It is an opportunity to offload. Family and friends don’t know how to act and respond, and in general people don’t ask too many questions because they don't want you to get upset.

Feel connected

So when people ask me how I am, I say I’m fine. But the nurses know that I am not always fine.

I may have my wig on and my face made up, but that is just the surface, and I can show the nurses that. They totally connect with me. 

It is a physical and mental struggle to make the effort to go in to see the team, but you do so because you know something positive comes out of going to the appointment. The team finds something else that might help, and give you options.

You will get more from them than the effort you put into getting there.

Tailored approach

They are obviously clinical specialists, which gives you total confidence, and they have tailored their approach. They take in every word, and respond to it. 

I scored high for anxiety. I didn’t realise that I was anxious. I’m not a person who takes tablets, but they have given me low doses of medication to help. 

And I was referred to an eight-week support group for people with different types of cancer. It offers therapies including Reiki and massage. I have found invaluable peer support there, and we have a WhatsApp group. 

One nurse referred me to the Department for Work and Pensions, and after an assessment I received £139 a week for support and mobility help, which has been brilliant.

Prioritise you

You know there is always someone making you a priority. When I was having palpitations from a new treatment I happened to see Bethan Daniel from the Christie’s Macmillan specialist team at an excellent patient education day. I told her about my chest.

She discussed it with a doctor straight away to check my dosage and whether it could be adjusted and then called me later that day. Bethan arranged for me to see the doctor when I went into my appointment, and my medication was all ready for me at the pharmacy.

I simply don’t know what I would have done without these fabulous nurses. They are my refuge – and my escape.

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