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NHS boss beats breast cancer

PUBLISHED: 10:21 15 April 2009 | UPDATED: 08:56 06 July 2010

SUFFOLK'S health service has been given a roaring review by top boss, Carole Taylor-Brown, who overcame breast cancer and a serious spinal infection with the help of Suffolk medics.

SUFFOLK'S health service has been given a roaring review by top boss, Carole Taylor-Brown, who overcame breast cancer and a serious spinal infection with the help of Suffolk medics.

Chief executive of NHS Suffolk Mrs Taylor-Brown said she was extremely proud of the brilliant and life-saving care she received during five months of intensive treatment from both Ipswich and West Suffolk Hospital as well as community healthcare teams.

The 51-year-old mother-of-one said the experience had also made her aware of the vital importance of staying breast aware - something she was now passionate about conveying to Suffolk women.

“The staff at Ipswich Hospital were absolutely fantastic,” she said. “I couldn't praise them enough.

“From making a very quick diagnosis, without which I could have had a very poor outcome, to all the care they provided.

“Myself and my family feel very grateful for the treatment I had and the kindness and sympathy shown.

“I was embarrassed about how ill I was, and I didn't want anyone to know who I was. They certainly didn't treat me differently to anyone else.”

Mrs Taylor-Brown went to see her GP after noticing a change in her breast shape.

She was then referred to West Suffolk Hospital's specialist cancer clinic and told she had a cancerous lump.

“I think like most people I was just in shock,” she said. “Everyone thinks of me as capable and together, but I was like a little girl. I felt very shocked and small.”

About a week afterwards she had her first operation, a lumpectomy, followed by another soon afterwards. She then started daily radiotherapy at Ipswich Hospital.

During this time Mrs Taylor-Brown was already having treatment from Ipswich Hospital's renowned spinal team for a chronic back problems caused by an accident a long time ago.

She then discovered she had developed a spinal infection which was causing her excruciating pain.

A week after finishing the radiotherapy the pain became so intense Mrs Taylor-Brown was admitted to Ipswich again, where she was diagnosed with discitis.

While Mrs Taylor-Brown was on sick leave NHS Suffolk director of finance and performance Julian Herbert took over the running of the organisation.

But now she is back at work and her experiences have inspired her to make sure every aspect of a patient's treatment is as good as possible.

She added: “I couldn't have a better job. It is about making a difference to healthcare in Suffolk.

“One of the things I'm really passionate about now is the richness of patients' experiences.

“I've shared my story and I hope others share their stories so we can improve care.”

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