In our latest feature to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month Catherine Scott looks at a new drug trial in Yorkshire.
Last Christmas Jackie Pickering was preparing for the festivities surrounded by her loving family. But when she discovered a small lump on her left breast, Jackie’s future looked uncertain.
After visiting her GP in January to voice her concerns about the lump, Jackie, 59, from Waterthorpe, Sheffield, was immediately referred for a mammogram followed by a biopsy and ten days later was given the devastating diagnosis of breast cancer.
Jackie, who has been married to husband, Dennis, for 10 years, underwent a lumpectomy surgery at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital followed by treatment at Weston Park Hospital.
On arriving at the region’s only cancer hospital for her treatment, Jackie was offered the chance to take part in a new clinical trial which involved testing new treatments for her particular type of breast cancer.
“When I was offered the chance to take part in a trial I knew that with my help and participation now, other breast cancer patients in the future could benefit and in a way that gave me a sense of purpose,” says Jackie.
She was treated in newly refurbished facilities on the Clinical Research Unit at Weston Park Hospital and is now planning a fund-raising event for the unit. The £1m unit, which was officially opened in May by charity Patron and former Olympian, Sarah Stevenson, was funded through the publicly-backed “Do Your Bit” campaign with the support of Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity, Westfield Health and Yorkshire Cancer Research.
The number of cancer patients taking part in clinical trials in Sheffield has increased over the past few years, with one in five patients in 2014 compared to one in 25 in 2000. Consultant Oncologist and Breast Cancer Specialist at Weston Park Hospital, Dr Matt Winter said: “We are currently conducting several important international trials in Sheffield that are aiming to see if we can continue to improve on reducing the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
“Jackie was keen to take part in the trial and is now several months into her treatment that she receives on the new Clinical Research Unit.”
Weston Park Hospital is one of only four specialist cancer hospitals in England and treats patients from all over South Yorkshire, North Nottinghamshire and North Derbyshire – a population of almost 1.8 million people.
“I have never once felt alone during my time at the hospital and that’s thanks, in no small part, to the staff, but also to the other patients who are going through similar situations.
“My sessions have almost turned into group meetings amongst friends, as we all swap experiences and share our stories.”
With still a way to go until her treatment is complete, Jackie is looking positively to the future and is hoping to go on more holidays, spend precious time with the family and explore the UK.
Although struggling with fatigue, Jackie is adamant to do what she can to support the work of Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity and is already planning a fund-raising night at her local pub.
“Having a world-renowned cancer hospital in the city where you live is a huge bonus and to hear the news that you have cancer and be able to think that means being treated at Weston Park Hospital was the most reassuring memory I have of my diagnosis,” said Jackie.
“It makes me feel proud that we have this fantastic facility in Sheffield and I will do whatever I am able to so that other patients in the future can benefit from the same exceptional level of care.”
Fund-raising manager, Helen Gentle said, “Jackie is an incredibly inspirational woman and has faced her diagnosis with such bravery and strength.
“During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity is proud to be able to continue funding research into this particular type of cancer which contributes to the hospital’s leading reputation in this specific area.
“Thanks to patients like Jackie who are partaking in clinical trials we are able to shape the future of cancer research in Sheffield so that our understanding and treatment of the disease can become more effective.”
For more information, visit the website at www.wphcancercharity.org.uk or call the charity office on 01142265370.