Breast Cancer: Alison’s story
For Alison Latham, who works as part of Bupa Global’s Customer Services team, a routine health check proved to be life-saving. When her bi-annual check-up, provided by Bupa, picked up a lump in her breast, her world was turned upside down. Here, she shares her experience of breast cancer from diagnosis through to remission.
“In August 2018 I attended my routine bi-annual health check which included a mammogram, as I am over the age of 50.
A week later, I received a call from the hospital informing me that the mammogram had detected a lump in my right breast, and although they didn’t think it was anything to worry about I had been booked in to see a breast specialist the following week. As much as I tried not to worry, it was hard as being told I had a lump conjured up all sorts of fears for me and my family.
When I went along to the breast clinic and met the consultant, throughout that morning I encountered nothing but kindness and respect from every single member of the team. They could all see how scared I was, but kept re-assuring me I would be fine and that I was in the best possible hands. I left the hospital that afternoon feeling very shaken, as I was starting to consider the possibility that the lump I had may potentially be cancer.
Two days after the tests I received a call from the consultant breaking the news that the lump was cancerous. I remember feeling as if I had been hit by a bus. The consultant was very calm and re-assuring and booked me in to come to his clinic the following week to discuss next steps. However, before the appointment I received a call from the consultant asking me to go for an MRI.
I saw the consultant the following week to discuss my results and my care plan. Unfortunately, the scan showed that I had two tumours which hadn’t been picked up by the mammogram. While this wasn’t good news, the positive message was that it had been caught early. I remember the consultant saying to me, “Thank goodness you had your wellness check”. Those words stayed with me throughout my treatment as what really resonated was that had my employer not provided me with such a benefit, this could have been missed until it was more serious.
My treatment plan was put together - surgery to remove the tumours followed by radiotherapy. I felt so lucky to be in the hands of such a wonderful consultant. It eased my fears knowing that I had access to the best medical team and facilities and I felt confident I would be well cared for.
The surgery went well, and over the following weeks I gradually started to recover, physically and mentally. My consultant recommended that I have my radiotherapy at a hospital in Guildford as he works closely with the team there.
I had my final appointment with my oncologist in January, who gave me the good news that I am now in remission and he felt confident that with the surgery, treatment and medication, I should be able to lead a fit and healthy life.
I didn’t know I had cancer until it was picked up in a wellness check. The NHS offers mammograms every three years. Had it not been for my employer Bupa, my tumours would have been more advanced by the time I had the NHS mammogram and it was already a grade 3 at the point of diagnosis. I didn’t have to worry at any stage about how my treatment was going to be funded; Bupa took all of that worry away from me which allowed me to focus on my recovery.
If I have learnt anything from my experience, it is that without good health we have nothing and Bupa truly recognises this - which is why as a company it invests so heavily in the health and wellbeing of its employees. Everyone who has the opportunity should use this potentially life-saving benefit. I cannot thank Bupa enough for supporting me during one of the most difficult times of my life.”