Living With and Beyond Cancer: Breast Radiotherapy Injury Rehabilitation Service (BRIRS), Bath


This service is called the Breast RadiotherapyInjury Rehabilitation Service and it’s a service designed for patients who’ve hadbreast cancer treatment, radiotherapy as part of that treatment which may have damaged theirbrachial nerve.

The symptoms of that would be a lot of movement in their arm or hand,or a lot of pain.

Also they might have low mood, and it would have affected their dayto day life and quality of living.

Technology we have nowadays is so sophisticated thatproblems associated with radiotherapy are relatively rare.

When radiotherapy was differentto how it is now, some people did experience problems with it.

Common symptoms that peoplestart to experience are a feeling of pain down that arm.

In addition to the pain thatpeople can experience, there’ll be a range of other symptoms.

That can include a feelingof tightness in your chest with breathlessness, thinning of bone on x-rays.

You may excessiveswelling in that arm, and of course all of these will make you feel somewhat anxiousand depressed.

That’s very normal.

The Breast Radiotherapy Injury Rehabilitation Servicehas been set up for people who experience these symptoms after they’ve had treatmentfor breast cancer.

The service is free for those living within England and referral iseither via self-referral or from your GP.

For those people who live outside of England,they’ll need to get approval from their local authority.

Feedback we’ve had aboutour service from patients who’ve attended so far has been extremely positive.

Peoplehave said that they are better able to manage their pain, they’ve got improvement in therange of movement in that painful arm, and they generally feel they are more in controland their quality of life has improved.

Of course, nobody should feel put off from havingradiotherapy treatment because of the tiny risk of developing these types of consequences.

Instead, please feel reassured that you will be cared for appropriately before, duringand after your treatment.

Before I heard about this service, I was feeling rather low.

I’dbeen told that I’d got plexopathy and I knew from a few years previously that it wasprogressive, but I’d been told that essentially there was nothing that could be done – goaway and learn to become more and more right handed, and that was really it.

I think themost upsetting thing for me was when I found I couldn’t hold a fork, and I couldn’tbring the fork to my mouth.

Once the patient has been referred to us, an initial telephoneassessment call is set up.

We go into medical history, what has happened to the patientup to this point, what their symptoms are, and what is important to the patient – whattheir needs are and what they would like us to address in clinic.

This helps us to reallytailor-make the day to suit them and to meet their individual needs.

What makes this servicereally special to patients is that we have professionals working together in lots ofdifferent areas such as pain, cancer management, respiratory (which is breathing disorders)and they all come together to treat the patient as an individual.

The treatment was excellent,to have a one-to-one meeting with different specialists in their subject, and I was verysurprised to hear that only 20% of my muscles at that time were working.

How would I feelif I could have 15-20% back? And I said yes, that’s 100% I’ll have it – thank you.

Once the patients come to clinic they are immediately relieved and reassured that theyare with people who know about their condition.

They also get the support of other patients,as they’ve probably never met anyone with the same condition as them.

Once the patientshave been through clinic, they will receive a follow-up call from the specialist nurseat the centre.

I’ve now got movement in my hand that I didn’t have.

It’s positiveand I feel that it’s going to be better.

We’re constantly improving our service basedon patients’ feedback and referral is either via self-referral or from your GP.

If whatyou’ve heard makes you think that this service would be useful to you, I would encourageyou to go and see your GP and talk about a possible referral to us.

To get a new leaseof life as I did through coming to the clinic, is just magic – that’s my word, magic.

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