Celebrating International Nurses Day wearing my Skarlette® - happy being flat

 Celebrating International Nurses Day wearing my Skarlette® - happy being flat

International Nurses Day is an international day celebrated around the world on 12th May to mark the anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth. In May 2021 we also celebrate the birth of the Skarlette® and women can be happy being flat wearing this gorgeous new lingerie.

It is even more important to celebrate this day in 2021 - marking the contributions nurses make to society, but more importantly their sacrifices, dedication, care and compassion through the worst health disaster we’ve seen in most of our lifetimes.

Florence Nightingale is acknowledged around the world with hospiatls and centres named after her. In Manchester, we have our very own Nightingale Centre based at Wythenshawe hospital offering state of the art breast cancer treatment alongside one of the most ambitious breast cancer research programmes in Europe.


My breast cancer treatment 
I have made peace with my new body and I’m happy being flat. However, over the year of the pandemic and recurrent periods of lockdown, my breast cancer treatment has caused complications for which I have needed the Nightingale Centre. The consequences and long term complications of breast cancer treatment are rubbish, and I’m lucky to have access to the nurses, doctors and specialists at the centre. I don’t suppose the human body can go through chemotherapy, breast cancer surgery and radiation and not complain by way of side effects and complications however!
Breast cancer treatment complications have impacted on the job I love and have done all of my life, not just my body. Lymphoedema, causing pain, swelling and numbness and the need to wear compression garments on my dominant hand, have meant that nursing and caring for patients (especially during a pandemic), have been very difficult due to the infection control measures. My immunity had also been affected. So for the entire year when nurses have never been more important, I needed to work from home, from behind a computer screen.

A bit about my nursing career I have never wanted to be anything else, well fleetingly I thought about the police or air-stewardessing, but for as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a children’s nurse. That may have something to do with my mum having been a children’s nurse. She trained at Booth Hall Children’s Hospital and she was so proud, when 30 years later, her daughter had followed in her footsteps. Having completed my training, I went on to work at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital in Pendlebury. I worked on the children’s cancer ward and I was always in awe of the way they dealt with their illness and their treatment. Having had my own breast cancer treatment, it makes me so sad to think about what their poor little bodies had to endure. 

I became a sister on the paediatric intensive care unit and learned so much. It was the most rewarding job in the world when we saved the lives of critically ill children. However, when I had started my own family, it was the most difficult job in the world when we couldn’t save a child’s life despite all efforts. I found that too hard, too close to home, and I left to pursue a career in general sick children’s nursing. 

I quickly became responsible for education and policy for a local Trust, which still allowed me to do the job I really loved – actually nurse and care for children and their families. It was the perfect combination – helping to make improvements and helping to make children better. Nothing lasts forever, so they say, and after a good 10 years, I left to work in the community. I had a desire to try and stop people becoming poorly in the first place.

That led me to a research company. That was a great job too. I really have loved my many and varied roles in nursing. It is such a fantastic career offering a wide variety of opportunities. I’ll always be a nurse at heart, even if I become a really successful business woman! I met Kate through my research job when her son was included in one of the clinical trials, and some years later, when I decided to move into general practice nursing, I still had connections with Kate as her husband was my employing GP. Nursing has come full circle for me and International Nurses Day really is worth celebrating.

From my role in general practice nursing, promoting health and educating patients in managing their ill health, it has led my nursing career in different directions. None of it was planned, but more opportunistic. I am now involved in helping to improve and increase the workforce in general practice. This is much needed and there is so much to do, it certainly keeps me busy. 
Breast cancer treatment and nursing was so different when I was a student nurse (back in the day!). Ironically, I trained at Wythenshawe hospital, looking after women who had undergone mastectomies. Never did I ever imagine that one day I would be there as a patient receiving the same breast cancer treatment – it’s a good job we don’t know what our futures hold. Ladies used to stay in hospital for about a week in the 1990s. They used to be looked after with TLC, they had empathy and compassion, kindness and care lavished upon them, trying to help them deal with seeing their new bodies for the first time after the dressings were removed. Now, it’s very different, that’s not to say it’s bad. The breast cancer treatment and surgery, anaesthetic drugs and recovery have advanced a lot over 30 years. I had my mastectomies at different times, but both surgeries only required a few hours in hospital, I was home between 2-4 hours after opening my eyes! The nursing care I received at home by the district nurses was wonderful though. I absolutely dreaded my wound drains being removed (it was one thing during my entire nursing career that I never liked doing to a patient) and couldn’t believe this was now happening to me – actually it was fine! A good pair of confident and experienced nursing hands and the expert distraction of my sister in law made the process so much easier.

I am so proud to be a nurse and I am so proud of every nurse the world over who has gone above and beyond during this pandemic. I am also very proud, that alongside all of my nursing work, I have been able to create the Skarlette® with Kate. I am proud that I am happy being flat, and that we can give all the women, who have been desperate for pretty and affordable lingerie for women living flat after breast cancer, an exciting new lingerie range. So I will be celebrating International Nurses Day wearing my Skarlette®.



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