FEATURE: '˜Don't ignore the warning signs' - Brave mum with cancer encourages others to get checked out
A brave mother with cancer hopes her story will encourage others not to ignore warning signs and simply dismiss them.
Dina Nicholson, 34, of Boston, has recently been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma following a trip to the doctor.
She praises the care she has received following an initial scan in March, which was instigated by her GP at Westside Surgery.
Mrs Nicholson, who is married to Jonathan and has a daughter Alessia, three, said: “I didn’t in my wildest dreams think I had anything like this. I went to my GP with a lump in my breast, which turned out to be nothing.
“But while at the GP I coughed and just said flippantly it was an annoying cough so Dr Butt acted as she looked at what else had been going on.
“My only symptoms were a few chest infections and an annoying cough I had had for months. So as you can imagine my world was changed overnight – along with my husband and three-year-old, parents, sisters, family, friends and colleagues.
“I also want to say to others to listen to your body. I put my chest infections, cough, tiredness down to rat race of life.
“Unfortunately, for me it was cancer at 34 years old. I had heard that advert ‘If you have had a cough for more than three weeks, see your GP’, but I didn’t.”
Following her diagnosis in May, Mrs Nicholson was forced to attend an out-of-hours GP appointment at Pilgrim Hospital which is operated by United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, in the early evening after suffering breathing difficulties.
She said: “The waiting room was very full and I could see that the staff were extremely busy.
“I saw the GP who was extremely thorough and supportive and listened to the concerns I had whilst explaining things to me clearly and understandably.”
She said that the GP’s honesty and reassurance was “refreshing” in what was a difficult time for her. It turned out that her lymphoma was crushing her windpipe and Mrs Nicholson was transferred into the resuscitation department.
She described the care she received as a “breath of fresh air” and “wonderful”.
Mrs Nicholson said: “I felt guilty taking up a valuable bed when there are so many others in need. However, the doctors were insistent my care was second-to-none and reassured me throughout my time being there.
“They again were very thorough. What struck me was the fact that these doctors were busy and A&E was packed, but they never faulted in the care they gave me. They made me feel that they were focused and clear on what treatment they were giving me.
“Not only the medical treatment but also the care and compassion and genuine concern they had.”
She said she cannot fault how Pilgrim and Nottingham Multi-Disciplinary Team have worked together to keep her updated.
She said: “Some days it did feel like forever, but that’s normal for anyone going through a cancer pathway. But as soon as information was gathered, they informed me.”
Mrs Nicholson has started her treatment and has undertaken four of 12 chemotherapy sessions.
“It is a tough old journey without a doubt, but the support I have had has helped me to keep smiling amd be positive,” she said.
“My consultant Professor Rinaldi has been amazing, being open and honest and keeping an eye on how I am before every chemo session which is fortnightly, and in between when I have needed to stay in.
“My haematology nurse Julia Buyukkaraca has been extremely supportive with me every step of the way and ensuring that I am OK throughout and know what’s going on.”
She also praised the team of clinic nurses and ‘the chemo girls’ for all their help.
“They are so lovely and supportive. The chemo nurses and healthcare support workers work so hard to make sure everyone gets their chemo that day, even if it means they are late leaving or eat their lunch super fast,” she added.
“They are so thorough and make me feel trust in them. In fact all of the staff I come into contact with do.”
She said staff on Ward 7A supported other patients, adding: “It really touched my heart the compassion they had.
“There were student nurses who also demonstrated the same as their role models and its great to see another generation of nurses have those wonderful qualities.
“A&E again were great when I needed to go there again. Attentive, supportive, caring and thorough.”
Koshy Jacob, clinical director for Integrated Medicine at Pilgrim Hospital, said: “I am very pleased to hear that this patient is happy with the care she has received from our teams.
“We have been doing a lot of work recently to transform how we care for patients who come into our hospital through A&E, ensuring that our teams work collaboratively so that the patients are seen by the right person quickly.
“It is still early days, but this patient’s experience shows it is working well.”