Written by a patient
30th September 2016
I had surgery for breast cancer at the very end of August 2016 and the doctor and his team were superb. Everyone involved in my care in the breast care unit were brilliant, as were the staff in the Day Surgery Unit.
However, I believe that breast surgery should involve an overnight stay in hospital, rather than a day stay and that the patient should not be discharged as soon as possible after the operation. I was released from hospital an hour and a half after coming round in the recovery room and was a total zombie, hardly to able to walk to the car and my husband was very concerned as to how he should support me due to the consequences of the surgery and the fact that my under arm dressing was full of blood, so he obviously couldn't support me under that arm. I was totally in his hands for the first 24 hours after the operation, due to the shock of the whole scenario.
Although the breast care nurses were always available at the end of the phone, surgery for breast cancer is a very personal experience and there was no post operative care until my follow-up appointment with the surgeon, almost a fortnight later.
Having to remove the dressings on my own, 48 hours after surgery was very traumatic. It was frightening, as I had no idea what I would find underneath, eg, the stitches etc, so I was petrified that I might re-open the wounds. When I finally managed to remove them both, I just howled when I saw the results of what I had left of my breast and felt very alone and isolated. Indeed, I was alone, because I did not want my husband to see how I looked, before I had seen this myself and come to terms with how I would look from hereonin. If only a district nurse had visited me, just the once following surgery, to remove the dressings, I would have felt in safe hands and would probably have laughed at the state of my breast, as I am a very positive and strong person under normal circumstances.
There are also many questions to be asked over at least the first 24 hours post surgery and if I had been kept in hospital overnight, I would have been able to ask the nursing staff and recovered well enough to go home, with confidence to move on and recover.
Please, please, Southend Hospital, do bear this in mind in future, as breast cancer is a very personal and life changing illness and just this extra bit of after care would make such a difference to women in the future.