A few months after turning 50, I was diagnosed with HER2 ER positive breast cancer following a routine mammogram at Charing Cross Hospital. As I have health insurance, I decided to see Mr Thiruchelvam privately to speed up my treatment pathway and to ease the burden on the NHS. Whilst I found Mr Thiruchelvam a little brusque at first (in hindsight he was under a lot of pressure as the Covid pandemic escalated), the more I spoke to him (we had between 5-10 consultations, some on the phone but most in person), the more I liked and trusted him. He eased my anxieties, firstly about the level of surgery I'd need - a lumpectomy, although I was warned that depending on the pathology results, a mastectomy might follow - then about the risks to surgical complications, the cosmetic result and the risk of prolonged pain. The Covid treatment plan altered only in that I'd have chemotherapy first and surgery after, once restrictions on cosmetic breast surgery (altering my right breast to match my left) had been lifted. I had an 'entourage' of people helping me on the journey, my pathologist Dr Suzy Cleator, pain specialist Dr Stephen Humble and the wonderful pre and post surgery physiotherapist Megan Oster at Six Physio. And that's aside from the warm and supportive doctors and nurses at the LOC on Harley St where I received my chemotherapy treatment (and held on to my hair)! Cancer diagnosis during normal life must be stressful, but during the Covid pandemic even more so. Whether in a phone call or email from Mr Thiruchelvam's incredibly efficient PA, my every concern was promptly addressed, so I can't imagine finding better treatment in the hands of anyone else. The surgical result was outstanding. And other than some pain under my armpit from the sentinel node extraction (and a little post-surgical cording which the physio has treated), I had no discomfort at all to either breast (I had a bilateral mammoplasty following tumour removal from the left breast). The scarring - hidden well under my breasts, and in an anchor shape up to and around my nipples - is so refined that I'm more focused on the clever uplift than aware of much scarring. I have a narrow frame but large breasts that had sagged since breastfeeding a decade ago. Post cancer surgery, they look very natural but are slightly smaller and more pert. The aesthetic result is a silver lining to the cancer diagnosis and treatment which will hopefully end (after radiotherapy) with Herceptin shots in my leg for 6 months and Tamoxifen tablets for 10 years.
My appointment with Dr Thiruchelvam was efficient, informative and reassuring. I felt well looked after and thankfully all was well.