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Monday, 11 December 2017
Blossom Appeal: A patient's story
23 November 2017

Nichola Whymark knows more than most the physical and psychological pain experienced after a cancer diagnosis.

Nichola was first diagnosed with breast cancer on September 13, 2013, having had biopsies eight days earlier, and underwent a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and a double mastectomy, before beating the disease.

Her life seemingly back on track, the fitness fanatic then committed a huge chunk of her time to fundraising.

She raised nearly £8,000 alongside her brother, running the London Marathon in 2015, before embarking on 40 challenges to complete, including learning to windsurf and plastering a wall, before her 40th birthday.

Unfortunately, she suffered a reoccurrence of her cancer earlier this year and underwent another partial mastectomy and is now dealing with the scars, including those that are not visible, that her latest ordeal caused.

“Up until being first diagnosed in September 2013, I had hardly been to hospital, but over the past four years I have been a regular visitor,” explains Nichola, who is married to Rich.

“My first visit was to Clinic C. What struck me was how warm and friendly the staff were – they are awesome, as are the volunteers – but I found the small waiting room packed, with everyone waiting nervously. I think they need a more comfortable environment.”

On her first visit, staff could not fit her in for a biopsy, meaning she had to return a few days later on what was a tough morning.

“When I returned I was in the waiting room for over two hours, getting more and more nervous,” she remembers.

“When you are new to this experience, you start to get anxious and the long wait begins playing tricks on you and you convince yourself there is something wrong before you are even told that there is.

“Clinic C is not big enough, there is not enough seating and the interior and furnishings are quite unfriendly.

“I can’t wait to see what the hospital has planned for the Blossom Appeal.”

It is hoped a state-of-the-art breast care centre would be on a par with the new Macmillan Centre on the Woolverstone wing of the hospital, which was opened in May 2016.

“The Woolverstone wing is clinical but it is lovely, modern and bright,” said Nichola.

“You don’t want a centre that is all singing and dancing, but somewhere where patients can watch TV, read a magazine. Somewhere with phone charger sockets as people can be there for a long time, a place where you do not have to walk too far to get refreshments and risk missing your name being called out.

“There are people going there (breast centre) with lumps and bumps and others that have been through the mill and when I go back, I see that sheer look of fear in peoples’ faces that they are going to be told something that isn’t very nice.

“To at least be told in a nice environment would be brilliant for everyone.”