Hive is very pleased to introduce Dr Liz O’Riordan who has very intimately seen both sides of a breast cancer diagnosis, first as a Consultant Breast Surgeon, then as a patient. Through the challenges of coming to terms with her diagnosis, receiving treatment, a mastectomy, and living life after treatment with fear of recurrence, she has shared her experiences candidly through her blog, TedX talks, and now in the recently published Complete Guide to Breast Cancer in collaboration with Trish Greenhalgh, a Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences who was also diagnosed with breast cancer.
Here, Liz has been kind enough to give us an exclusive introduction to this amazing, empowering book:
I was a consultant breast surgeon. I was a triathlete. Never in a million years did I think I could get breast cancer at the age of 40. I just thought I had another cyst. My mammogram was normal, but the moment I saw my ultrasound scan, I knew. It was a large cancer. I would need a mastectomy. I would need chemotherapy. I felt helpless. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Not to me. I had plans.
I started chemotherapy within a week and began blogging. Partly to help me come to terms with what was happening to me, partly to help educate the medical profession and other patients about what it’s really like to have breast cancer treatment, and partly, I hoped, to find other doctors with cancer who get what it’s like to be on the other side of the table.
And that’s how I met Trish, my co-author, and academic GP. She sent me a private message on Twitter telling me she was having treatment, and it turned out we were having chemo on the same day – chemo buddies, and we could share the delights of steroid insomnia and constipation together and motivate each other to exercise.
Between us we bought 20 books (and we’re meant to be the experts on breast cancer), trawled cancer websites and went on forums – craving information from patients on how to cope with everything that was happening to us. We needed to be in control again.
And that’s why we wrote this book. We wanted to put everything we’ve learned in one place, whilst sharing our own personal stories. To help explain who has what treatment and why. To guide patients through recovery and what happens next. To talk about recurrence and how to deal with it. It’s the book we both wish we could have read the day we were diagnosed