salford teacher cancer treatment

A Salford teacher with breast cancer is worried her treatment will be cancelled again after she felt as though she was ‘left to die’ when her vital surgery was delayed at the start of lockdown.

Rebecca Glenn, a 38-year-old Salford Quays resident, found a lump in her breast after checking herself and was later diagnosed with stage one breast cancer.

Rebecca was due to have a lumpectomy on 2nd April before starting chemotherapy and radio therapy.

Two days after her pre-operation assessment on 24th March she received a phone call from her breast care nurse who told her the operation at the North Manchester General was cancelled.

Photo credit: Tricia Neal / North Manchester General Hospital / CC BY-SA 2.0

The reason given was that it would be too risky for her to be near Covid patients in the ICU.

Rebecca said: “When you’re getting a phone call from the breast care nurse and they can’t tell you when or if your operation will happen, it was really scary.”

“That’s when I really panicked because with mine, I found it quite early and time was of the essence.

“With the operation it wouldn’t have chance to spread but without it it would, so it was really terrifying.

“My argument was breast cancer will definitely kill me if you leave it – but with Covid I’ve got a better chance.

“Your thoughts are that you’re just going to be left to die so it was awful.”

The lumpectomy eventually happened at the Rochdale Infirmary which does not have an ICU.

Rebecca has had another operation and five months of chemotherapy since her first surgery and is awaiting radio therapy.

She’s worried that hospitals will begin to cancel appointments again as a result of a second wave.

She said it would be ‘completely unethical’ for hospitals to do this as the disease is understood better now.

She continued: “Top consultants have come to the media and said blanket cancellations have done more harm than good.

“There will be, from cancer alone, 35,000 extra deaths and that’s without heart disease or anything else that’s been put aside so actually if you add it all up, I think along with everything it would far outweigh the Covid deaths.

“That’s not to take anything away from those, it’s just if they allowed that to happen again when bars are still open and let the situation get out of control, I think that would be completely wrong.”

Rebecca said hospitals need to ensure they have plans in place incase they become overwhelmed, so that they are able to move vulnerable patients to Covid-secure environments to have their treatment.

Sharing her advice this breast cancer awareness month she said: “Check yourself regularly.

“Don’t think it’s unlikely to happen to me because family haven’t had it or anything like that, just get it checked out if you do find something.

“Yes, the likelihood is that it’s not cancer but if catching it early means you saved your life it’s as simple as that.”

Sam Morris founded the charity ‘Think Pink and Sparkle’ to raise funds for breast cancer research and awareness about the disease after she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at 40.

Sam was cancer free for almost five years however in 2011 she underwent an operation to remove a bone after being diagnosed with bone cancer.

12 years since her first diagnosis she is currently receiving treatment for soft tissue cancer.

Sam has continued her treatment throughout lockdown however she’s aware of many people who have had theirs cancelled.

Speaking about what advice she wants to give to others she said: “If you’re unsure for whatever reason always insist on seeing someone about breast cancer even if it’s just for peace of mind.

“By leaving it you could go straight to secondary breast cancer.

“What I would say to anybody, not just throughout October, is to set a date to check your breasts whether that be the 15th of every month or pay day”.

For more information about breast cancer awareness month and to find out how to get involved click here.

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