Warwick woman who had incurable cancer sent heartfelt letter to hospital team who supported her

A Warwick woman who died from breast cancer has left a heartfelt tribute to the team at Warwick Hospital who supported her.

Mary Bonner, who was a teaching a library assistant from Warwick, died in August aged just 52.

Mary Bonner with her husband Brian Halford. Photo submitted.

Mary Bonner with her husband Brian Halford. Photo submitted.

She had been diagnosed with incurable breast cancer and has paid a heartfelt tribute to the invaluable "lifeline" and vital support she received by Warwick Hospital’s Secondary Breast Cancer (SBC) Team.

Mary's letter arrived with the SBC Team shortly after she died. She felt compelled to write a letter detailing the hugely positive impact the SBC Team had following her diagnosis in August 2016.

Mary said: “During a very difficult and emotional path the SBC Team have always been there for me.

"The clear-sighted support from exceptionally-skilled professionals has been invaluable.

Left to right shows: Sian Corrie and Helen Millage, Breast Care Nurse Specialists at South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, provided Mary with invaluable support during her fight against secondary breast cancer.  Photo submitted.

Left to right shows: Sian Corrie and Helen Millage, Breast Care Nurse Specialists at South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, provided Mary with invaluable support during her fight against secondary breast cancer. Photo submitted.

"Neither myself nor my husband could have coped half as well in dealing with the ‘small-scale things’ or the ‘big things’ and questions."

The letter is a resounding testament to the improvements made to the Secondary Breast Cancer Service at the South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust (SWFT), following a pledge made by them in 2017.

The Secondary Breast Cancer Pledge was developed by Breast Cancer Now and Breast Cancer Care in 2012 in recognition of the fact that people with SBC can, for a number of reasons, often feel they experience a poorer standard of care compared with their treatment for primary breast cancer.

The Trust teamed up with Breast Cancer Now and Breast Cancer Care to identify, through a patient-led programme, areas which required improvement.

The programme gave SBC patients the opportunity to provide their views on what matters most to them.

Warwick Hospital's SBC Team discovered that patients wanted additional information on a number of topics.

They also learned that patients felt reluctant to ask questions due to not always knowing who, what or when to ask these important questions.

The findings led to the organisation producing an information booklet that is now given to all newly diagnosed SBC patients.

The report also highlighted the need to anticipate and deliver information in a timely and sensitive manner.

Mary added: “I have felt very well informed and well cared for and cannot underestimate or underplay how important and valuable their support has been.

"Through the SBC Team I received their own very useful pamphlet, a booklet from Breast Cancer Care and was signposted to numerous support groups.

"The SBC Team has been very proactive in its support and work with SBC patients.

"I feel very lucky to be in its orbit.

“The SBC Team has been a lifeline and I hope it will be a beacon of light to many more patients for many years to come.”

Helen Millage, Nurse Specialist Breast Care at South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The SBC Team was very humbled to receive such a beautifully written letter and will continue to strive towards ensuring all patients diagnosed with secondary breast cancer receive compassionate and individualised care.”