Advice and Support during Covid for Fitzwilliam Hospital breast cancer services

As a Breast Care and Support Nurse at The Fitzwilliam Hospital Peterborough, Adele Miller provides vital ongoing physical and emotional support to her patients. Here, she discusses why her role is so important and why working with Future Dreams , a breast cancer charity make such a difference to our patients.

Future Dreams support women who are supporting women through their breast cancer journey, with a main focus on secondary breast cancer

What does a normal day look like for you?

My day starts early on a Monday morning as we have a one-stop breast clinic in the outpatients department that starts at 8am. We also have a one-stop clinic on a Wednesday, which starts at 4pm. This clinic is where the patient gets to see the breast consultant who does a breast examination and requests imaging, be it a mammogram or ultrasound, or both. The imaging is carried out and the consultant radiologist reports on it immediately. The patient then sees the breast consultant with the results of these two tests right away, which is extremely reassuring for the patient. However, if the patient requires a biopsy, this takes a further 7-14 days to return with results. I also carry out all the pre-operative assessments on the breast cancer patients. It is my job to ensure their needs are being met and to provide continuity of care. As the one-stop clinic at Fitzwilliam is a private service, patients can call me at any time. I know all the patients hugely appreciate this service.

Why is your role so important?

This is an extremely difficult time for patients and their families and they just need someone to listen, understand and answer their questions. The patients all know they can call or message me any day and I will get back to them. The support patient’s need during treatment for breast cancer varies with each individual and I want to be there to offer that, whenever or however it is needed. I am very lucky that I get to know the patients well, as I see them every six months for five years following initial diagnosis and treatment. My job is hugely rewarding. I meet the most amazing, strong and courageous people.

How has Covid-19 affected the hospital?

Since the start of Covid-19, Fitzwilliam have been doing NHS breast cancer operations several days a week to ensure patients are still able to have their operations. I have therefore also been working on the Fitzwilliam hospital ward to help with the NHS breast cancer patients and linking with the NHS breast care nurses to ensure that all patients receive the best care and support possible. I am doing what I was trained to do and supporting the NHS. It is very rewarding and a pleasure to look after so many patients who really needed to continue with their treatment.

How did you hear about Future Dreams?

The matron from Fitzwilliam put me in touch and told me about the care packages the charity was providing to breast cancer patients. They have put so many smiles on so many faces - not just when they open the care packages, but with the bras, softies and drain bags that were also donated. The feedback from patients has been incredible. Every patient was astounded at the generosity and care put into the packages, as was I. The patients need a little something to put a smile on their face, even if it is for a short while, and these packages certainly did that. One elderly lady was crying when she received the package and just kept saying "unbelievable, unbelievable". Another lady said: "this is like a treasure trove with lots of interesting new discoveries".

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