The specialist nurse Lorraine Walker answers your questions
We recently had Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but do we remember to look for the subtle signs that could change our lives?
We chat with breast specialist nurse Lorraine Walker, who is based at Nuffield Health Cambridge Hospital and has close ties to the UK Breast Cancer Now charity, about her support that improves the lives of women and men. men.
What should I look for?
Everyone is different, so get to know your breasts and understand what’s normal for you first. It’s not just about finding lumps, but also about changing the texture of the skin on your breast. Sometimes it’s very subtle changes, like dimpling. Other symptoms may include a change in the shape or size of your breast, redness or rash, inverted nipple, discharge from the nipple, and swelling or lump in the armpit. Regular check-ups can save lives and an early diagnosis makes a big difference in the outcome, so never think it’s not worth checking out. Always have it checked.
What if I find something disturbing?
If you are concerned about any changes or have a family history of breast cancer, please see your doctor, who can refer you to a hospital breast unit. Patients can also refer themselves to one-stop breast clinics with our consultant breast surgeons, however, a referral by a GP is also beneficial.
What does the breast cancer care service offer?
We’re here to support women and men who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, to help empower them by presenting all of the options available for treatment to them so they can make their own thoughtful choices. We have an excellent team of breast cancer experts available to provide psychological support throughout treatment and beyond. Above all, we strive to tailor the individual journey to each patient in order to maximize comfort and minimize stress for those in need of treatment.
What does a breast specialist nurse do?
My role is to share knowledge and expertise, providing psychological and clinical care. It’s such a shock when breast cancer is diagnosed, life seems surreal and the information can be overwhelming, so it’s important that everyone feels safe and supported. It’s about balancing education and care, a hand to hold and someone to make sense of it all and help patients feel more in control of their situation. I will be by their side throughout the trip, from clinic appointments and their visit to the ward, through chemotherapy, surgery and post-treatment care. I’m always on the phone to answer any questions and offer the support they need for anything they may need to do at that time.
What happens after the treatment?
I can be available to see each patient when treatment is over, which for many is a crucial time as they often feel their safety net is gone. We also support families throughout the experience as the whole experience can be very difficult. Sometimes it is difficult to talk to each other and I can provide a bridge to help ease anxieties and offer ongoing support. It really makes a difference and is another essential part of the breast cancer care we provide.
Meet the expert
Lorraine Walker is a Breast Nurse Specialist at Nuffield Health Cambridge Hospital with close ties to the UK Breast Cancer Now charity, which keeps her at the forefront of evidence-based knowledge and current developments.
Previously trained at the RAF, Lorraine worked for 17 years in breast care and was an advanced practitioner and nurse consultant to the NHS for five years, gaining expertise in breast cancer care and complex treatments. This wealth of experience makes Lorraine a key part of the patient journey at Nuffield Health Cambridge Hospital, providing psychological support and guiding them through treatment and beyond. Proving her deep passion for supporting cancer care, Lorraine has embarked on treks around the world, raising funds for breast cancer charities and continues to plan other expeditions for the future. .