KeepHealthCare.ORG – It is time to end the post-code lottery for secondary cancer care
Almost four years ago, in June 2014, I attended the inaugural showing of ‘I am not the cancer’. This art installation – created by British artists Tim Wainwright and John Wynne – used the disembodied voices of three women whose breast cancer had metastasised. The three talked openly and starkly about the realities of living with secondary breast cancer, as the viewer watched only the women’s unspeaking faces in close up. As people emerged from the darkened room, some people – who had perhaps not entirely appreciated that ‘secondary’ actually meant incurable – were shocked into anger at the lack of awareness, care and treatment. I remember talking to Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) Gill Donovan from the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, who was one of too few CNS’s giving care to those with advanced breast cancer.
I thought again of Gill when I read the report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Breast Cancer into geographical inequalities – i.e. the postcode lottery – in the diagnosis, treatment and care of people with breast cancer. Part of the report reads: ‘People with secondary breast cancer are not getting the treatment, support and care they need. The Cancer Taskforce identified gaps in the support and services offered to people with secondary breast cancer, including variation in access to a CNS.’