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BB Blog — Victoria Lavin

Victoria Lavin, When an Oncologist gets Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

Posted by Emilienne Rebel on

In case any of you missed the Guardian article by Victoria Lavin last Thursday please find the link below. An wonderful read. 

"Cancer is not a battle, hair loss does matter – and even doctors like me can’t prepare for the effects of chemotherapy".

She continues to write in the Guardian article about how her experience of having Breast Cancer will shape her future career. 

"In August 2017, during the last month of my maternity leave, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer Initially, I was plagued by memories of the young patients I had discharged home or to the hospice for end-of-life care. Thankfully they are few – but they are the ones you remember. My experience of being on the other side of the consultation desk will shape my future career and it has helped me to understand what goes on for patients. It has been an education in patience, humility and gratitude.

First, there were the well-meaning stock phrases which I had so often used: “You’re so brave; you can fight this”. Really? Yesterday I was a 34-year-old clinical oncology trainee and mum of two, and today I’m a professional cancer warrior? Cancer didn't feel like a fight to me and I won’t be asking my patients to go into battle in future.

The biggest ego-bruising revelation was learning who makes the difference. As the doctor prescribing the treatment I always felt my role was the most crucial. For the patient, however, it’s the healthcare assistant who smiles when you walk in and gets you seen on time; the volunteer who brings you a cup of tea; the complementary therapist who offers reflexology and a chat during treatment; and the nurse who gets the cannula in at the first attempt." (AMEN to that!)

"Hair loss is something we often gloss over in busy clinics. I have been guilty of simply handing over a wig leaflet as the patient walks out of the door. It matters. It changes a person’s whole identity. I worried what my children would think and that it made me look like a victim. In the end, my daughter said: “Mummy, you’ve got no hair like Grandad Pete” and carried on making her Disney princess puzzle."

Feel comfortable and more confident in a Bold Beanie... made by someone who understands how it feels to lose your hair with Chemotherapy. 

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