fear or recurrence

Fear of Recurrence - Breast Cancer Awareness Month

23rd Oct 2019

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month we wanted to help you learn about the Fear of Reccurance programme for Beatson former patients, this service helps to provide excellent practical and emotional support to women and men who have been affected by breast cancer. Find out more below. 

“I was so emotional; I didn’t know what to do. Everyone else around me was getting back to normal and I just couldn’t.” 

Breast cancer patient, Glasgow

Around 55,000 women and 370 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK (Breast Cancer Now). For some breast cancer patients, the successful treatment of their cancer and getting the all-clear will leave them with a low-level of worry. This means they’ll keep an eye on their health and keep up with regular breast checks. However, some will experience a high-level of worry and their fear of the disease returning can severely affect their mood, relationships, work and self-esteem. The Fear of Recurrence programme exists to support women and men who have had breast cancer by providing emotional and practical support in weekly sessions over a duration of six weeks.

“The difference we see in ladies who have attended is amazing, from week one to their follow up session. They have worked towards living the life they want to live – such as booking a holiday or returning to work and focussing on what’s important to them. The difference is amazing to witness – their body language and self-confidence is fantastic.” - Fiona Sinclair, Therapeutic Radiographer

Fiona Sinclair Dr Christine Bonathan

(Therapeutic Radiographer, Fiona Sinclair and Clinical Psychologist, Dr Christine Bonathan, run the Fear of Reccurance programme)

The unique Fear of Recurrence programme began in 2017 and is funded by Beatson Cancer Charity until October 2020. All group sessions are run by Therapeutic Radiographer Fiona Sinclair, and DR Christine Bonathan clinical psychologist. The sessions are informal and interactive, offering valuable peer-to-peer support, and they focus on helping to manage difficult thoughts and feelings. 

There have been over 400 referrals to Fear of Recurrence, and 16 groups of ladies have completed the sessions across various locations in Glasgow and South Lanarkshire.

Breast Cancer Radiotherapy Open Evenings 

New support is now also available for those diagnosed with breast cancer who haven’t yet started their treatment. Fiona Sinclair and Therapeutic Radiographer Heather Reid have launched radiotherapy open evenings which have started this October.

 fear of recurrence

The therapeutic radiographers aim to empower patients with knowledge of what their first radiotherapy appointment will be like. They will be given information about radiotherapy planning and treatment, as well as a demonstration of the equipment that will be used. Patients will also be given the opportunity to ask questions, learn about any possible side effects during and after radiotherapy, and get advice on how best to look after themselves during and after treatment, such as skin care, diet and exercise. Family members or friends can accompany the person allowing them to share in the experience. 

Open evenings are held on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month at 5.30pm-6.30pm. If you would like to attend one of the open evenings, please contact Fiona Sinclair on 0141 301 7263. 

Feedback on Fear of Recurrence

“Overall I gained a sense of companionship and not feeling ‘alone’, and the ability to discuss anything around cancer with no fear of being judged. Absolutely loved being open and honest with people in a similar situation sharing feelings – good and bad. Fiona is an excellent facilitator and made us feel comfortable from the word go. I would recommend this to any cancer survivor.”

“I really enjoyed the relaxation techniques and controlling my breathing whilst focussing my thoughts. I have learned lots of techniques to help me cope when I get anxious, worried and stressed. I also met other ladies who feel the same as me and I now don’t feel so isolated with my thoughts.”

“I found the session based on signs of recurrence very helpful and this was presented really well. I actually dreaded this discussion beforehand and wasn’t looking forward to it at all but really glad I did it. I have had huge benefits from each session and felt better after each one. I wouldn’t change anything about this programme.”

More information on Fear of Recurrence

If the fear of breast cancer recurrence is impacting your life, our groups can help you. Weekly sessions last for two hours over a duration of six weeks and will be held at various locations across Glasgow. For more information, please talk to your health professional, call 0141 301 7263 or email Fiona.Sinclair5@ggc.scot.nhs.uk.