Focus on Denise Moorhouse. Speciality Manager in Pain Services, Breast Radiotherapy Injury Rehabilitation Service.
This October for Breast Cancer Awareness month, we want to put the focus on the Breast Radiotherapy Injury Rehabilitation Service (BRIRS) in Bath, which has been adopted by Macmillan.
With many more diagnosed with and surviving breast cancer, more and more people are living with the emotional and physical side effects of the disease and its treatment – some of which are not always expected or recognised.
Most people have some side effects during and for a few weeks after treatment for breast cancer. Sometimes certain side effects may not go away. And, occasionally, people may develop side effects months, or even years, after treatment.
The BRIRS offers specialist multidisciplinary rehabilitation to men and women who are suffering hand or arm pain following radiotherapy treatment for cancer. The aim of the service is to provide an assessment for people living with nerve damage following radiotherapy for breast cancer and to help gain an improvement in daily function, quality of life and pain management.
Denise Moorhouse is Specialty Manager in Pain Services delivering the BRIRS from the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases (RNHRD) which is now part of the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust (RUH). She was adopted by Macmillan to support the cancer rehabilitation/survivorship services delivered at the RUH.
Denise describes one patient who has seen a real improvement in the quality of her life since being referred by her GP in 2012: 'Barbara had been diagnosed with right sided breast cancer in 1980 and treated with surgery and six weeks of radiotherapy treatment. At a two day BRIRS clinic Barbara was assessed with severe pain across her upper back across both shoulders extending into her neck. She also described starting to have difficulty with using her hand in 2005 and started to experience problems with movement of the hand in 2009. She also described constant pins and needles in the hand. The hand itself had become cold and life had become very difficult without the use of her right hand. She reported being fatigued and breathless when carrying out simple tasks.
'Barbara was invited to attend the RNHRD for a two week inpatient rehabilitation programme, which consists of a variety of individualised appointments with Physiotherapy (both on land and in the Hydro pool), Occupational Therapy and Health Psychology.
'Throughout her inpatient stay Barbara worked on daily exercises and hydrotherapy to improve her shoulder posture, range of movement and function. She was made aware of the benefits of postural changes and advised on techniques to use whilst completing daily living tasks. Upon discharge her goal was to support objects with her right hand when completing her daily tasks, and she was provided with fatigue management advice.
'Barbara was discharged feeling more confident about managing her condition moving forward and with the knowledge that she could contact us if further help was needed.'
Denise is a strong advocate of Macmillan since the service was adopted, saying: “Macmillan has been vital to ensuring we have the support to deliver great services. The ability to get information quickly is valued by the whole team. Macmillan enables me to engage in a great network, to deliver training and education to clinicians to inform them about the complex and rare patients we see'.
She concludes; 'Working with such dedicated and brilliant clinicians is one of the best parts of my job. The whole team is focused on making sure that lives are improved and able to be enjoyed as much as possible. That is a privilege to be involved in.'
No one should face cancer alone. For support, information or if you just want to chat, call us free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk.