In February 2015, I was diagnosed with bi-lateral breast cancer, six months before my twin sister died from the same disease, with which she had been diagnosed eleven years earlier. As a result, we both had to undergo respective radical surgery, followed by delayed reconstructive surgeries. This reconstructive surgery and post recovery is, medically, quite a traumatic part of the breast cancer treatment (further exacerbated, on my part, by the fact that Sally passed away on the morning that I was due to have this surgery). Despite being identical twins, due to our individual diagnoses, we each received quite different types of reconstruction.
A breast cancer diagnosis is the beginning of an anxious roller coaster journey, requiring patients, at the outset, to undergo x-rays and invasive procedures, in order to identify the necessary treatment and surgeries urgently required. Restorative breast reconstruction surgery forms an integral part of that mammoth journey, involving step-by-step intricate procedures, over the course of several months. The Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Unit, within the St Andrew's Centre, at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, is a regional centre of excellence for Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and provides services for around 250 breast cancer patients a year, from Suffolk, Essex, London and even further afield. It provides different types of breast reconstruction, comprising a choice of free tissue transfers or implants, specifically tailored to the individual patient's needs. The specialist team of nursing, surgical and medical staff provides invaluable care and support networks, alongside the reconstructive surgery, to restore the physical and psychological confidence that breast cancer almost completely destroys.
The cost of key technical equipment and delivering these high level services, exceeds the amount of funding the NHS is currently able to allocate to the BRA Department. Therefore, at the end of June, a small group of us will be cycling from Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, to Bournemouth, covering 182 miles over two days, to raise funds for this amazing unit, which plays such a fundamental role in the treatment of, and recovery from, breast cancer. We will also be calling at the plastic units of two other hospitals, en route, to further publicise our cause.
I am extremely grateful for any donation that you are able to contribute towards our fundraising event, on behalf of BRA, and I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my story.
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