CANCER UNITED: Tips on how to deal with those first days of diagnosis

Dr Jan Russell-Dexter, trustee at Cancer United
Dr Jan Russell-Dexter, trustee at Cancer United

THIS week the Gazette has caught up with Dr Jan Russell-Dexter, a trustee of the Angmering-based support charity Cancer United, to find out about her tale of defeating cancer.

I’m celebrating exactly twenty years since my surgery for breast cancer was completed, and am lucky to be fit and well.

Like many, once I had got through the fear and confusion, I chose to use the experience to make sure that every day of my life is the best it can be, and I value that.

It reminded me though that initially I was not happy with an initial misdiagnosis from a consultant, and knew in my heart that something was wrong.

I had a look around for the consultant in my region who had the best track record, and insisted on a referral to him.

Sure enough, my diagnosis was positive and I went on to receive excellent treatment and support from a top team.

Initial diagnosis is scary, yet there are three things I really learned from my experience which I’d recommend.

• Trust your instincts. You usually know your body better than anyone if you take the time to listen.

• You really can insist on the referral that you want. Have a look here which guides you through how to shop around. Having a consultant and service that you trust is really important.

• Take someone along with you to your appointments, because you can feel a bit overwhelmed and it’s good to have someone else hear what is being said so that you can understand fully what the options are.

Cancer United is there to help you by talking through any of those points if you are worried that something is not quite right.

For details on the group, click here.