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When Janet Lowe’s friend was diagnosed with cancer, 7-months into her second pregnancy, she was at a loss for how to help. And, to add to her concern, Jan’s friend lived on the other side of the world – in Australia.
Janet explains how she felt when she heard that her friend needed treatment and how she came across a way to help from afar:
“Eleanor was my neighbour when I lived in Sydney; we became close friends and we kept in touch when I moved back to the UK. I was delighted when Eleanor started her family in her 40s following difficulties conceiving, and so I was absolutely devastated and totally shocked to hear that she was diagnosed with cancer when she was pregnant with her second child. Eleanor was such a vibrant, healthy woman, who exercised regularly and followed a nutritious diet – so it seemed so unbelievable that she could be so unwell. Following the birth of her baby, Eleanor started on a gruelling medical plan. She underwent a double mastectomy and had seven lymph nodes removed – and needed an intensive programme of chemotherapy. Sadly, Eleanor contacted me to let me know that the doctors reported that the chemotherapy hadn’t worked – it had had no effect at all on the tumours – and she would need to have further treatment with an alternative drug. With a toddler and a 4-month baby, it had been incredibly difficult to cope with the treatment, so Eleanor was severely disappointed about the news and unsure if she could face more chemotherapy, physically and emotionally.
“Apart from talking to Eleanor on the ‘phone and sending her emails with love and support, I felt at a loss of how else I could help – and really felt the distance between us. The, fortuitously, I read an article in the Mail on Sunday You magazine about a new service which could help patients and their families to get a second opinion on their treatment. I talked to the team at London Medical Concierge and was reassured that they could help provide an independent second opinion to give Eleanor advice on the best course of action. Eleanor was just too ill to seek out advice herself, but she was more than happy for me to act on her behalf – and emailed over her medical records and details of her treatment to date. Email is an amazing way to reach out to friends who may be thousands of miles away! Talking over the ‘phone, Kirsty was wonderfully reassuring and empathetic and I immediately knew that I was right to seek advice for my friend.
“Ultimately, the second opinion from the UK oncologist was that Eleanor should go ahead with the medical advice in Australia and have a follow-on course of chemotherapy with an alternative drug. Eleanor felt reassured that this was the best course of action and I was just happy to be able to help in some way from afar.”