Distinguished therapeutic radiographer and educator, Hazel Colyer, gave an evocative and insightful talk on her journey through treatment for breast cancer from the patient perspective.
Hazel revealed the sense of shock she felt when she was given the dreaded news. “I have 45 years of teaching and experience and it all counted for nothing in the face of this devastating diagnosis,” she recalled.
“I felt in control before the day of final diagnosis; I thought I was prepared, but when I was given the news I was stunned into silence and fell apart.”
One of the aspects of Hazel’s treatment which surprised her was the way she felt trapped in the process, and unable to have a life outside of her illness.
“With regards to scheduling things just change suddenly. The schedulers seemed to assume that patients have no life outside cancer and this gives you a feeling of being overtaken by the system,” she said.
Hazel underwent six cycles of chemotherapy, followed by surgery and a course of radiotherapy, and found her experience to be a mixture of feeling proud of her profession and frustrated by the process.
“The best things were being cared about, not just being cared for. I would not, for instance, have known that the trust which treated me was in special measures.
“It made me proud to be a radiographer, because whenever I came across one during my treatment they did a great job,” she said.
“The worst thing was feeling trapped. And the awful taste the chemotherapy leaves in your mouth!”
Hazel closed with some food for thought for delegates.
“When you wonder about getting out of bed in the morning and when it seems that the NHS is grinding to a halt, think of us patients. I am really proud of us and what we do,” she said.