Laura Henderson, aged 48, lives in Slough, Berkshire. Laura works as an operations manager for an insurance intermediary. Laura is originally from Ayr in Scotland but has lived in the south east of the UK for 24 years now.
Laura was diagnosed by the NHS and had her chemotherapy with the NHS. After transferring to private care, Laura was cared for by Mr Fazel (surgeon) and Dr Thanvi (oncologist) at the BMI Princess Margaret Hospital in Berkshire.
We caught up with Laura to learn more about her experience and treatment at BMI Princess Margaret Hospital.
Please can you tell us a bit about your diagnosis:
I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2013. I had developed a large cyst but wasn’t at all worried at the time, as I’d had one in the exactly the same place five years before, which wasn’t a problem.
However, this time my skin had started to pucker above the cyst and I thought it worth getting it looked at. My doctor referred me to our local NHS clinic for tests and I came out of there that day, having been told that they were fairly certain I had breast cancer.
The cancer was confirmed by the results in January 2014 and a treatment plan of 6 sessions of chemo, a mastectomy, radiotherapy and a breast reconstruction was drawn up.
However, further tests just a few weeks after the initial diagnosis revealed that I had secondary bone cancer on the right side of my pelvis and by February, I had been given a stage 4 diagnosis.
What were the treatment steps recommended?
Fortunately, my treatment didn’t need to be changed following the discovery of the secondary tumour and I went ahead with my chemo sessions and was then prescribed Herceptin and Tamoxifen.
I had a mastectomy in July 2014 and was given a Becker implant whilst I went through some radiotherapy treatment on my breast.
In June 2015 I underwent targeted Cyberknife radiotherapy to the bone tumour in my pelvis, and In December 2015, I finally had my full breast reconstruction at the hospital.
How did you decide to get treatment at BMI Princess Margaret Hospital?
At the point at which I was due to have my mastectomy, I decided I wanted to move all my cancer treatment and surgery to the BMI Princess Margaret Hospital. Whilst I had no problems with my NHS treatment, I really wanted to have more individual, continuity of care.
It was really important to me to be able to see the same doctors and nurses at each appointment, to go the same hospital each time and, to have a little more privacy and comfort, whilst undergoing surgery and having to make such difficult and emotionally draining decisions.
Are you still undergoing treatment at our hospital?
My care and treatment at the Princess Margaret hospital is still ongoing – I’ve been with them for more than 2 years now. I’m stage 4, so it’s a long and difficult journey but I can’t thank the staff at the hospital enough.
My experience at BMI Healthcare, has been a really, really positive experience. I now have almost everything under one roof and it’s such a pleasant and professional environment.
Alongside my cancer treatments, I’ve been able to have complementary therapies, such as reflexology and acupuncture, which has really helped me to feel more normal.
I want to be a normal person with cancer, not a ‘cancer patient’ and my care with BMI has made that possible.
My experience at BMI Healthcare, has been a really, really positive experience.
How did the care you got at BMI Princess Margaret contributed to your recovery?
Because I go to the same hospital and get to see the same staff and also, the same patients, I've made good friends during my treatment and developed what is almost an extended ‘family’ network of people who understand what I’m going through and who I can talk to.
This has made a very difficult journey through serious illness, as pleasant and easy as it could ever be.”
Our consultant Mr Maisam Fazal comments:
It has been a privilege to treat Laura through her cancer surgery, breast reconstruction and finally her symmetrization procedure.
She has always been incredibly positive throughout and as a Consultant, it is reassuring for me to know that she has received excellent care & support from my breast team at the BMI Princess Margaret Hospital.