Women who wear mastectomy clothing have one thing in common – they have all faced the difficult battle of breast cancer. And while many survive the disease and go on to live long lives after the ‘all clear’, they are left with emotional scars from their fight, as well as physical ones.
According to a recent study, up to 250,000 women in England are not getting adequate support once their hospital treatment comes to an end, leaving them to face health issues for months or years afterwards, the Express reported.
Breast Cancer Care reported that 41 per cent of the 3,000 women surveyed did not receive support to cope with the long-term effects of suffering from breast cancer. With 579,000 women living with the condition in England at the moment, this means a quarter of a million people will be to with deal with the fallout of their diagnosis without any professional help.
Chief executive of Breast Cancer Care Samia ad Qadhi was quoted by the news provider as saying: “It’s unacceptable that women with breast cancer are being routinely let down in such large numbers.”
She stated: “After being blindsided by the life-changing, long-term emotional and physical effects of the disease, far too many women are being left to pick up the pieces themselves, without the healthcare support they need.”
The survey found that more than half of all hospital trusts lack breast cancer support provisions after treatments end, and even fewer provide information about the possible long-term effects.
This leaves thousands unaware of what the typical symptoms are, and they end up searching on the internet for answers.
According to the charity, one-third suffer constant pain, a quarter are unable to carry on with their normal lives, the same proportion feel fatigued, and more than 50 per cent are not given adequate information about the risks or symptoms of the cancer coming back.
One of the side effects not often discussed is the impact on a survivor’s sex life after the disease.
A previous study from the charity revealed 79 per cent of women who have been diagnosed with the condition are left unhappy with their sex life. For more than half of these women (58 per cent), this is due to a loss of libido from treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy and hormone therapies; 47 per cent lose their self-esteem; and 45 per cent suffer from vaginal dryness.
More than two-thirds of patients reported they were not informed about the impact treatment could have on sex and intimacy, meaning many faced emotional upset and even depression when their relationships were deeply effected.
Breast Cancer Care noted that treatments have improved massively over the last seven decades the NHS has been around, and as a result, breast cancer survival rates have increased significantly.
However, Ms al Qadhi added: “It’s crucial the system catches up and ensures these women are given the ongoing care they need to live well – not just survive.”
As a result of the results of the survey, the charity has asked health minister Steve Brine to make end-of-treatment care for breast cancer patients a priority.