Wednesday 2 December might well have felt like a relatively standard day for most of us, but not for Kim Wright. That’s because on that Wednesday, Kim had her 100th Sciensus nurse visit and it’s something that has taken her by surprise.
“Did I expect to reach 100 nurse visits for having Herceptin treatment at home? Most certainly not!” she says. “In fact, I never ever thought I’d end up having 100 visits. I just regard myself as lucky that I’m still here.”
You’ve got a friend
In 2014, Kim was advised by her consultant oncologist Dr Chakraborti that her breast cancer had advanced and as a result, she needed to have regular Herceptin treatment. Since then, Kim has had a Sciensus nurse visit every three weeks to administer Herceptin. Over the years, she has built up a strong rapport with her regular Sciensus nurse, Janice Flanagan.
“I think of Janice as a friend who comes to visit every three weeks,” Kim explains. “I trust and feel comfortable with her and I can talk to her about anything. We seemed to click straight away as we found we had things in common. For example, we have both had breast cancer and Herceptin treatment and we also both have grandchildren.
“Because Janice has had the treatment, she knows what it feels like and that is such a help for me. When she is administering the drug by subcutaneous injection, Janice will stop every few seconds to give the muscle time to absorb as Herceptin is a very thick treatment. She uniquely understands what a difference that can make as it is a painful treatment. She’s very caring and professional.”
Kim can also ask her Sciensus nurse about side effects she is experiencing such as bleeding gums or an upset stomach post-treatment. It’s particularly useful that Janice has also experienced these side effects. “It makes such a difference just to talk about how you’re feeling with someone that really understands,” says Kim.
Having treatment at home takes away some of the stress for Kim and her husband, Rob. “My husband used to work on an oil rig for some of the time when I was having chemotherapy and I had to have it on my own,” Kim explains. “I also found it difficult to get to hospital if I was due to have a treatment but didn’t feel too well. When Dr Chakraborti said I could have treatment at home, Sciensus provided my chemotherapy at home and then I went onto Herceptin at home. I was advised I couldn’t drive after having chemotherapy and I don’t feel I can drive when I’ve had Herceptin as I sometimes don’t feel very well afterwards. It’s a lot more convenient having my treatment at home.”
Having regular treatments doesn’t get any easier for Kim. She feels anxious in the lead-up to each treatment but feels relieved when she knows the nurse that will be visiting is Janice.
“I do tend to dwell on each treatment as it approaches so it’s lovely that we can chat about what our grandchildren have been doing afterwards and have a catch-up. It helps to take my mind off everything and feel normal again,” Kim explains. “It’s just myself and my husband here now as our children are grown up and have left home so whenever Janice visits, she’s like a breath of fresh air.”