Why I support Guy’s Cancer
Karen Robertson was treated for HER 2, an aggressive form of breast cancer at Guy's Cancer between May 2015 and March 2017.
Karen has since participated in the Guy's Cancer Celebration of Hope For Cancer Survivors' Day, for the past two years, and wants to encourage others to support the hospital.
‘The diagnosis came two days after I returned from a residential school journey in Finland with a group of 9-year-olds from my school. Within days I was having lots of tests to see if the cancer had spread to my bones or other organs.
‘Everything had been going smoothly until that day. Bringing up my children, Natalie and Leo, inspired me to train as a teacher and I loved my job as assistant head at a London primary school. Then I got cancer and my world was turned upside down.’
Karen began her treatment on the old oncology ward at Guy’s Hospital where she had eight rounds of chemotherapy over six months to reduce the size of the tumour.
She then had surgery to remove the tumour, and a bi-lateral mastectomy (the surgical removal of both breasts) with reconstruction at the same time in early 2016.
Unfortunately, there were some tough setbacks during Karen’s treatment. A serious infection meant one of her initial reconstructions had to be removed, delaying radiotherapy. Karen then came to the Cancer Centre at Guy’s for radiotherapy, as well as physiotherapy at the gym.
‘When I first went to the new Cancer Centre at Guy's I was stunned. It's light, spacious and airy and doesn’t look or feel like a hospital. Everything has been designed around the wellbeing of patients... I knew right away that I was in the best place I could be.
‘The teams who treated me were exceptional too. Not only are they leading, dedicated experts, but they clearly care about their patients. I felt that everyone, from the oncologists and surgeons to the theatre team and nurses, took a personal interest in me. I still remember all their names. They were shoulders to cry on, and gave both me and my husband, Adrian, so much support.’
Adrian spent a lot of time at the Cancer Centre at Guy’s to support Karen throughout her treatment too. And as Karen remembers, being in a quiet and calming environment helps to support relatives, as well as patients, during difficult days.
‘Adrian was by my side throughout my treatment. He was very impressed with the new centre and areas you can retreat to when you need a quiet or private moment. There are also outdoor balconies, so patients can get some fresh air, and take in great views across London.’
Supporting Guy’s Cancer
Karen is now well and living life to the full, including walking the catwalk during the fashion show at the Cancer Celebration of Hope For Cancer Survivors’ Day for the past two years. But her experience with cancer, and her time at Guy's Cancer, has left a life-changing impact on her.
‘The whole experience of cancer has changed me both physically and mentally. Losing my hair was one of my lowest moments… but now I have a whole new head of curly hair, quite the opposite of the long straight hair I had before.
‘My whole outlook on things has changed and I endeavour to make the most of all the positive opportunities and experiences that life has to offer. I will be eternally grateful to the skilled doctors and nurses at Guy’s for their hard work, dedication and support.’
Karen would like you to join her in supporting Guy's Cancer, to help provide more of the extras like spaces for well-being, gardens and gym facilities that can transform the hospital experience for patients and their loved ones.
‘Thanks to Guy’s Cancer, I recovered. As well their vital medical treatment, there are all kinds of other therapies and support systems available too. Whatever your needs – physical, practical or emotional, the help is there, thanks to people like you.’
To join Karen in supporting Guy’s Cancer, please make a donation today, any gift you send has the power to make a life-changing difference.
Lead photo: Karen relaxing with son Leo