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‘You matter to the last moment of your life’

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 12 June 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:1335
  1. Irene Brignall, patient
  1. St Ann's Hospice, Manchester

    On waking up, my daily routine begins with fitting a prosthetic breast, which I have worn since my mastectomy six years ago. I then fit a tight elastic sleeve and glove to my right hand and arm to help manage the lymphoedema, a painful, debilitating, awkward (yet not uncommon) side effect of breast cancer treatment. I then take nine tablets for my heart condition. I had quadruple heart bypass surgery in 1983 and went into heart failure at the end of last year. Only one of the original four heart grafts is working. This renders me “disabled.” I live with my husband, Eric, who is visually impaired, in Greater Manchester.

    I now attend St Ann's Hospice in Manchester for supportive outpatient treatment as part of the day therapy services on offer. I drive for about two hours, twice each month, to see one of the few physiotherapists in north west England who has specialist training in lymphoedema management. I intend to refer myself to another outpatient clinic where a nurse runs sessions helping people manage breathlessness—which has become more distressing since my heart failure. I enjoy my association with St Ann's and feel good about becoming actively engaged with their user involvement facilitator as a …

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