Amaz­ing staff made per­sonal fight eas­ier

Caernarfon Herald - - WRITTEN BY YOU -

GLENDA Burke, from Porth­madog, was di­ag­nosed with grade 3 breast can­cer on Septem­ber 20, 2017, after dis­cov­er­ing a lump on her right breast.

Fol­low­ing a lumpec­tomy, she un­der­went a course of chemo­ther­apy at the Alaw Unit in Ys­byty Gwynedd fol­lowed by ra­dio­ther­apy at Ys­byty Glan Cl­wyd’s Can­cer Cen­tre.

Glenda, who is speak­ing out about her di­ag­no­sis to mark Breast Can­cer Aware­ness Month, said: “I dis­cov­ered the lump while I was in the shower at the be­gin­ning of Septem­ber last year and rang my GP the same day to get it checked out.

“When I was di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer I didn’t re­ally know how I felt, it was all a bit of a blur and it felt like it was hap­pen­ing to some­one else.

“I was sched­uled for my lumpec­tomy on the 13th Oc­to­ber at Ys­byty Gwynedd with my won­der­ful sur­geon, Mr Ilyas Khat­tak, who I can­not praise enough and was in­cred­i­bly kind through­out this part of my treat­ment.

“He re­moved 36 lymph nodes from my right armpit and I was told that, luck­ily, the can­cer had not spread fur­ther, which was a huge re­lief.”

Most women with breast can­cer will be of­fered more than one treat­ment and Glenda un­der­went a course of chemo­ther­apy and ra­dio­ther­apy fol­low­ing her surgery to en­sure she had the best chance to beat the disease.

“The chemo­ther­apy was the most gru­elling part of the whole jour­ney for me, I be­gan to feel un­well and started to lose my hair.

“I never thought hair loss would be some­thing that would have an im­pact on me but when it started com­ing out in clumps it re­ally did start to up­set me, mainly be­cause, for the first time, I looked like some­one who had can­cer.

“To make get­ting through this stage that lit­tle bit eas­ier I made the de­ci­sion with my hus­band to shave my hair off, this was very up­set­ting for both us but it helped me by not see­ing my hair fall out each day.

“I had my chemo­ther­apy in six ses­sions ev­ery three weeks and even though this was the most dif­fi­cult part for me it was made eas­ier by the amaz­ing staff on the Alaw Day Unit and my fan­tas­tic on­col­o­gist, Dr Cather­ine Bale, who were all so sup­port­ive.

“I was de­ter­mined to beat the disease through­out and my last part of the treat­ment was at Ys­byty Glan Cl­wyd to have 20 ses­sions of ra­dio­ther­apy which was a walk in the park com­pared to the chemo­ther­apy!” added Glenda.

Breast can­cer is the most com­monly di­ag­nosed can­cer in women in the UK and over 55,000 women are di­ag­nosed with the disease each year.

Dr Cather­ine Bale, Con­sul­tant Med­i­cal On­col­o­gist at Ys­byty Gwynedd, said: “One in eight women will de­velop breast can­cer at some point in their life­time.

“Breast can­cer is thought to be caused by a com­bi­na­tion of our genes, life­style choices and sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­ment – in a small num­ber of cases, breast can­cer genes run in the fam­ily.

“The ear­lier breast can­cer is di­ag­nosed, the bet­ter the chances of suc­cess­ful treat­ment. I would en­cour­age all women aged 50 and over to at­tend their free breast screen­ing ap­point­ments which are ex­tremely ef­fec­tive in de­tect­ing early signs of breast can­cer.

“I’d like to thank Glenda for speak­ing out about her ex­pe­ri­ence to raise aware­ness and for her kind words about the teams who were in­volved in her treat­ment.”

Glenda hopes her story will pro­vide hope to oth­ers who are cur­rently un­der­go­ing treat­ment to beat the disease.

“I can’t thank the staff in Ys­byty Gwynedd and the can­cer cen­tre enough for the sup­port they pro­vided along the way, es­pe­cially the breast can­cer nurses who were only a phone call away if I ever needed any­thing.

“We are truly lucky to have such a fan­tas­tic health ser­vice here in North Wales.”

● Glenda Burke with her daugh­ters Caryl, main pic­ture, and Ffion, right

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