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Ask an Oncology Specialist Nurse | Liz Bradley



  • Blanka_CBlanka_C Posts: 406 Community Admin

    Hi @Strawberry42,

    I hope you're well today and don't mind me getting in touch! I just wanted to share this article with you about using a hair dye during and after treatment. It has lots of recommendations from members of our community, including organic and all-natural products they found helpful.

    I hope this helps a little! I think there are some discussions on the forum about hair products, I'll have a look and share if I find any!

    Have a lovely day,

    Blanka x

  • ChlogambleChlogamble Posts: 6

    Hi Lizzy,

    Me again! Thanks so much for your kind reassurance in the past, it’s really helped me which is why I’m back again for your expert second opinions!!! 😊

    So, I’ve just this week completed chemo (yay!) for what they have graded as stage 1b, grade 2 IDC breast cancer. I had a sentinel node biopsy where I had 2 nodes removed and one of them had cells in but the second was clear. I stupidly read my pathology report as I’d been told the cells in the node was only small - it says it was 6mm which doesn’t seem small to me?? I’m not sure if this pushes me into stage 2 grading or if I’m just splitting hairs?

    Anyway, my real question is, is they’ve said there is a risk of microscopic spread (I guess this is the case with any cancer) which is what the chemo and the radiotherapy to come is for but I don’t know if I should be pushing for an auxiliary clearance? They only want to do radiotherapy to the auxilia and breast.

    I’d also like to know a little more about the side effects (long and short term) on radiotherapy if you could help at all?

    I’m sure like all other patients, I now worry about every single ache and pain in the body. I’ve had a bad knee for about 6 years now which I’m sure was an injury from running up the stairs too quickly, should I be asking for more scans? My oncologist said scans are pretty useless in my case and while I’ve mentioned all my ailments- they don’t seem too concerned.

    Do I just need to have more trust?

    Thanks very much xx

  • LizzyB73LizzyB73 Posts: 112 Oncology Specialist Nurse

    Hi @Chlogamble

    Good to hear from you again and hope I can put your mind at rest.

    SO glad you’ve completed chemo - another tough milestone passed under your belt.

    Any cancer in a lymph node is best treated systemically with chemo, just to mop up any microscopic cells that decide to do their own thing. No need for an axillary clearance as you only had one node involved with a grade 2 tumour indicating not a fast growing aggressive form.

    Radiotherapy to the breast and axilla will also deal with any small cells left.

    It’s usually a three week treatment and well tolerated. Liken it to an x Ray, the side effects include what can be described as a sun burn to the skin on the affected side as well as some tiredness. Use simple soap and apply cream to the reddened skin and this will alleviate the side effects.

    Long term radiotherapy can potentially cause scarring to the lungs but this is a very small risk compared to the benefits that it has at the present time.

    I wish you all the best for your treatment and yes have faith that the team know exactly how to treat you to achieve the best outcome. Don’t forget you will still have ailments not even related to cancer so try and go with the flow.

    Sending hugs

    Liz 💕

    Liz Bradley
    Oncology Specialist Nurse | Oncology Service Manager @ Springfield Hospital
  • ChlogambleChlogamble Posts: 6

    Thanks so much Lizzy, I really appreciate it. I’ve had a bit of a paranoid day today (I’m day 3 after docetaxol so normally the emotions kick in after the steroids!).

    Is it also normal to have swollen glands in the tummy/sides? I seem to have noticed what seem like lumps and bumps just under the skin (I’m assuming the nodes and chemo flowing!) - could also be fatty deposits! I’m sure I felt them last docetaxol and then it seemed to settle down.

    Just seem to keep finding things to worry about!! Lol Xx

  • LizzyB73LizzyB73 Posts: 112 Oncology Specialist Nurse

    Hi @Chlogamble

    so sorry you’ve had a difficult day today - steroids can play tricks on the brain no doubt!

    Are you sure you’re not sure just pressing too many places on your body and imagining the worst?


    Liz Bradley
    Oncology Specialist Nurse | Oncology Service Manager @ Springfield Hospital
  • ChlogambleChlogamble Posts: 6

    Probably! I have what feels like a fatty lump in between my ribs which set my head in a spin, I’ve had one checked before and it feels exactly the same. I’ll give it a few days and mention it to the team if it doesn’t go down! Thanks so much for being my reassurance on a Saturday night! Xx

  • RozaliaRozalia Posts: 8

    Hi Liz

    I am one of the very lucky ones but would like some reassurance with regard to my post operative double bilateral mastectomy sentinel node biopsy scar. The operation because of covid delay came 4 months after chemo. It is now four weeks since my operation(good results, tumours had all gone bar one stage 1 ER tumour which the surgery removed and nothing in the lymph nodes, no need for any further treatment although I have to continue with herceptin injections and to take letrazole). I still feel very tight - as if I am wearing a very tight corded bra and I can't reach anything above the first shelf of my kitchen cupboards. One side is healing well but the other still has ripples/waves along the scar. I feel very tender above the scar line and dislike having anything against this area. I think there is some fluid here but it is not massive or red. I feel as if I have cushions/swelling under my armpits but they look pretty much okay.I have a couple of red patches along the scar line and have started to put germolene on these - I think they are now less red and nothing is oozing or weeping. I get odd stabs of pain but in general they are short lived. The sensitivity of the area above the scar sometimes stops me sleeping even though I often take either co dydramol or nurofen plus when going to bed. I have mostly stopped the pain killers during the day.

    Is what I am feeling normal at 4 weeks? It is difficult to judge when phone calls are the order of the day rather than a face to face physical check.

    Are there any web pages showing progressive pictures? I could ask for a face to face appointment but at a time when departments are so busy catching up I don't like to if it's not necessary. I should add that I had very large J cup breasts hence the double mastectomy rather than just the one. I did not have drains. I do all the stretching exercises mostly 10 repetitions for each 3 or 4 times a day.

    Please advise and if I am doing okay can you give me an idea of how long before I can expect this to be gone. I should at some point go for a prosthesis fitting but at the moment the thought of wearing a bra or anything round this area is beyond me.

    Thank you

  • LouiseJLouiseJ Posts: 861 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Hi @Rozalia ,

    I am sure Liz will respond to you, but I just wanted to reply, to give you some reassurance too.

    I had a mastectomy also, and what you have described all sounds very normal to me. You are in the early stages of post-op recovery and I am not surprised at your limited movements or the pain you have described. If the area around the scar line doesn't look inflamed, orange-peely texture, and no discharge or excess swelling where fluid may be gathering, I would say you are on course for recovery. I understand it is more tricky with not being able to visit the breast care team as you might have done in normal circumstances, but do not be worried about contacting them if you are concerned or need further clarification on the healing process. They would rather you call, than leave it, and something happens that could have been prevented.

    I am now four years post-op, and I still have pains across my chest, around my scar line, and I have lymphodema too. I am always told when I bring up the pains or anything else, this is normal etc. My doctors are great in checking though too to make sure. I hope you have a good team around you for support.

    When you are ready for your prosthesis fitting, the nurse there will also check with you to see how you are doing. I think I had my fitting approx 8 weeks post surgery, I did have complications though. They won't do it until you are in a better place physically. I didn't wear a bra for ages! I just wore camisoles under my tops. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable.

    I hope you continue to make progress in your recovery, and in not too long will be feeling much stronger.

    Take care,

    Lou xx

  • RozaliaRozalia Posts: 8

    Dear Lou

    Thank you for taking the trouble to reassure me, it was thoughtful and kind. I was a bit worried though to learn you still get pain some 4 years later. Is it bad, very occasional or what? Do you take anything for the pain, if so and it works would you let me know what and I will give it a try. I did read that Capsaicin cream can be helpful for mastectomy scar pain. I had this cream for ankle arthritis but to be honest gave it up because I could only have a very tepid bath, hot bath water was too uncomfortable on the skin where this had been.

    Sorry to hear you have lymphoma, I have a friend with this in her leg and I understand it is quite uncomfortable and disabling. She is trying to set up a support group.

    Much appreciate your response.


  • LizzyB73LizzyB73 Posts: 112 Oncology Specialist Nurse

    Hi @Rozalia

    Thanks for getting in touch and as Lou has already so eloquently described, your symptoms sound totally normal for someone 4 weeks post op.

    I am so pleased that you have good news regarding your tumour staging and that you do not require any further treatment aside from herceptin.

    When you think about the op you have had and bearing in mind as you said you had quite large breasts, the sentinel node scar may take a little while to heal.

    I would suggest that about 8 weeks is usual so if after this you have any further reddening or swelling then you should consult your breast care nurse.

    After this time you may feel okay to then have your prosthesis fitted

    good luck with it all

    Liz 💕

    Liz Bradley
    Oncology Specialist Nurse | Oncology Service Manager @ Springfield Hospital
  • PositiveLady10PositiveLady10 Posts: 77 ✭✭✭

    Hi Liz,

    I previously contacted you regarding my chemo treatment affecting my heart.

    Ive recently had a blood test to check kidneys ,due to tablets they’ve put me on for my heart can affect your kidneys.

    The results of my blood test came back as kidneys ok, cholesterol ok, now showing problem with the liver??

    ALT level is 154

    ALP level is 609

    I know these levels are way,way too high. I have had a follow up blood test today, concentrating just on the liver.

    I have been referred for an urgent liver scan and an urgent appointment to see a Consultant Radiologist.

    What can this all mean?

    Im worried re a secondary from my breast cancer.

    Sorry it’s so long winded but as you can probably tell I’m inpatient and worried.

    Thank you Liz, Barbara

  • LizzyB73LizzyB73 Posts: 112 Oncology Specialist Nurse


    Hi Barbara

    sorry it’s taken me a few days to come back to you - have been away and just got back.

    I can understand that you would be concerned following the receipt of the above liver blood results but as all of us who have had cancer sometimes forget, there are other things that could cause this.

    Drugs for example that you may be taking or even something non sinister like fatty liver disease, however, I do totally get that your mind has taken you off down the path that you don’t really want to go to, but until you get the answers you need from the scan will continue to worry you.

    We are all here for you and keeping everything crossed for a positive result.

    Sending my best wishes

    Liz 💕

    Liz Bradley
    Oncology Specialist Nurse | Oncology Service Manager @ Springfield Hospital
  • VincentVincent Posts: 5

    Hi Liz, thank you for this opportunity. I'm looking for suggestions on hair colouring. How long after treatment is it safe to start colouring your hair? Are these box dyes in drugstores safe to use? Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you :) Sophie

  • LouiseJLouiseJ Posts: 861 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Hi Barbara,

    I have just seen this post you wrote a little while ago.

    How are you doing, have you had any results back yet? I am really sorry to hear you are in the middle of an anxious time again, the worry of recurrence is black and heavy. I am really thinking of you and hoping that you will get a positive outcome and the levels are due to something else, not cancer.

    Sending you lots of love and hugs,


    Lou xxx

  • PositiveLady10PositiveLady10 Posts: 77 ✭✭✭

    Hi Lou,

    lovely to hear from you,I hope that you are ok and your sisters treatment is responding well?

    I had my liver scan recently,I was worried in case it was a secondary from the breast cancer.

    The results thankfully,just showed that I had a little bit of fat around the liver,nothing sinister thank god.

    The GP still wants me to see the Gastroenterologist,when the appointment ever arrives,as she said the 3 worrying enzymes which were raised,are still not at normal levels!!!

    Im on antibiotics at present for an UTI,oh well what’s something else.......I’ve had worse 😂

    Im feeling ok,still get extreme fatigue ,but will not nap in the day,otherwise I won’t sleep at night!

    I am still being monitored by the heart community nurse,who is lovely,called me into the hospital for a mot a couple of weeks ago,all good,but have got to stay on the tablets,Consultant said it was the chemo which caused the heart problem,I’d say you can’t win can you,but hey thank god I am,so am very lucky.

    Take care of yourself,and do please let me know how you are.

    Take care,love,

    Barbara 😘

  • LouiseJLouiseJ Posts: 861 ✭✭✭✭✭


    Hi Barbara,

    Thank you for your lovely message.

    Yes I am doing well thank you, all the family managing to steer clear of covid thankfully. My sister has finished her treatment now, and is working from home while recovering and getting stronger. Unfortunately like many of us she has suffered with side effects of treatment and medication which are proving difficult to deal with. But it is early days for her still, we learn things take on a slower pace post cancer as our bodies have had such an assault thrust upon them!

    I am so glad your scan was clear and nothing untoward going on, I hope the UTI clears up soon too.

    It is great you are getting great care from the heart nurse, my sister had heart probs during her chemo, it does happen. But it is good you are being monitored.

    I have an appointment next week at the hospital, yearly mammogram, should be fun! lol😁.

    I wrote recently in another post how it was five years since my diagnosis day, how life has changed since then with so much going on. In that time however I have met some lovely people, especially here, which is fantastic.

    Have a good evening, speak soon,

    Love Lou xxx

  • PositiveLady10PositiveLady10 Posts: 77 ✭✭✭

    Hi Lou,

    thank you for replying to my message.

    Hope everything will be ok for your yearly mammogram next week.

    I had my first yearly mammogram in July,I don’t know why ,but I felt myself excusing the way I looked to the very young lady who was doing my mammogram??

    Perhaps it’s because it was the first mammogram I’d had when looking different??

    Ive got a “big birthday” arriving on the 12th Oct,my 70th,was hoping at least for a holiday,but can’t see that happening haha.

    I hope your sister will soon be feeling a lot better,it’s such a long road......as we know!!!

    I have always been a person to speak my mind,sometimes a bit too forward,but...... I have definitely got worse,I don’t really have a lot of patience with people winging about minor problems now,I’m sure this is a normal reaction to people post our experiences???

    Have a good evening Lou,always lovely to catch up with you,take care,

    Barbara xx 😘

  • LizzyB73LizzyB73 Posts: 112 Oncology Specialist Nurse

    Hi @Vincent

    Hope you are doing okay and thanks for getting in touch.

    I attach an article on the subject that may be helpful

    Wishing you well

    best wishes

    Liz 💕

    Liz Bradley
    Oncology Specialist Nurse | Oncology Service Manager @ Springfield Hospital
  • LizzyB73LizzyB73 Posts: 112 Oncology Specialist Nurse

    Hi @PositiveLady10

    Lovely to hear from you Barbara

    be thinking of you on your special day approaching

    Take good care of yourself

    Liz 💕

    Liz Bradley
    Oncology Specialist Nurse | Oncology Service Manager @ Springfield Hospital
  • RobertARobertA Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @LouiseJ @PositiveLady10 @LizzyB73

    lovely to hear from you all.

    I am pleased to hear that your sister has finished her treatment Lou. Hopefully, she is over the worst part though I am sorry to hear about her side effects. I do hope that she will cope well with her treatments and be able to build her strength up over time. It is not easy to accept that we may have to live life at a gentler pace going forward. All the best for your mammogram. Even for a routine visit, it is always an anxious time and it will be good to get it out of the way.

    Hi Barbara. Well, having gone through the cancer experience and with a special ‘Big’ birthday on the near horizon, you are entitled to speak your mind. I think your response to people whingeing about minor problems is entirely appropriate. We cancer survivors may feel impatient and frustrated at being expected to spend time on things we perceive as meaningless, even more so than we did before. At 75, I am very much in that camp and I tend to spend more of my time with like minded people, many of whom I have met in this Community.

    Rob xx

  • Mary78Mary78 Posts: 30 ✭✭

    Hi Liz, I'm looking for something to help with aches & pains. Sometimes my entire body aches. Is there a cream that would help and is safe to use after surgery? I also am thinking about getting one of these microwavable wheat wraps. Do you have any experience with this please? Thank yu so much in advance

  • Hello Liz.

    Is there anything a person can do with their diet to ensure their neutrophils remain high enough for weekly chemo to continue. I asked a nurse on Thursday when I was in the chemo suite if there was anything I could do amd she said no.

    With most things you can have an element of autonomy so unsure if this something I can have influence over or not.

    Thank you


  • LizzyB73LizzyB73 Posts: 112 Oncology Specialist Nurse


    good evening Rachel

    sadly your chemo nurse was correct. Your blood’s white cells will only regenerate in their own time and so nothing you can do diet wise to raise them. There are drugs we give by injection to boost white cells but these come with own side effects.

    I do wish you well during your treatment and let me know if I can help further

    best wishes

    Liz 🌸

    Liz Bradley
    Oncology Specialist Nurse | Oncology Service Manager @ Springfield Hospital
  • Mary78Mary78 Posts: 30 ✭✭

    Hi @LizzyB73 I was wondering if you had time to consider my question on dealing with aches, any advice would be much appreciated please

  • Larry FaganLarry Fagan Posts: 2

    What is the best way to find resources in the UK for rare types of cancer like mantle cell lymphoma? How do you find the center with the most expertise in this specialized area?

  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 1,446 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Larry Fagan

    Hi Larry,

    I have put some links to some organisations that may be able to provide some information you are looking for. I hope it helps a little.

    I don't know how you go about finding the most specialist care available to you. There are some hospitals that offer treatment, both NHS and private health care. This is probably something your doctor would be able to advise on I would hope.

    Take care,

    Lou x

  • Blanka_CBlanka_C Posts: 406 Community Admin

    Hi Samantha,

    I have severe aches & pains. Is this normal? Can I do anything about it?

  • Blanka_CBlanka_C Posts: 406 Community Admin

    This is the answer

  • Hello Liz,

    I am getting ready to start chemotherapy and was told to purchase "frozen gloves & slippers" to prevent neuropathy. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for these products?

    Thank you!

This discussion has been closed.