Breast cancer survivor who lived in agony for 10 years told ‘nothing can be done’

A breast cancer survivor lived with pain like “red hot pokers” in her chest for 10 years before realising there were treatments to ease her agony.

Kerry Sharpe, 50, of Leicestershire, had a mastectomy and lymph gland removals for breast cancer treatment leaving her with deep and excruciating scars across her chest.

She was told radiotherapy was the cause of the pain and there was no way of alleviating it.

As a result, she “lived with the pain for 10 years” until a chance meeting with an oncologist changed her life.

She said : “I was in absolute agony, it often felt like someone was sticking red hot pokers in my chest.

“After the surgery I was told the pain was due to the radiotherapy and there was nothing I could do, so I lived with the pain for 10 years until I went on a cruise.”

On the holiday Kerry and her mum went for spa treatments, where by complete chance she got talking to an oncology therapist from Milan.

She added: “I had three scar work sessions with Alessia during that cruise and it immediately made a difference.”

“When I first started getting scar therapy I could hardly bear to be touched, it was so painful.

“Now it is so much better, but what upsets me is the thought that I put up with the pain for 10 years and didn’t need to, yet still people are being told the same and living with pain unnecessarily. More needs to be done to raise awareness.

“My wish would be for scar therapy to be offered after every operation.”

And future survivors may no longer have to endure the decade of pain Kerry lived through.

Macmillan have teamed up with another Leicester woman to help fill the gap in support for women who’ve undergone surgery to remove breast tumours.

Physiotherapist Hannah Poulton, 42, who also had surgery, has obtained financial support from Macmillan for a project to help women after their operations.

As part of the program, Hannah uses holistic “light-massage” techniques to help reduce pain and discomfort.

The therapy does not remove the scarring, but can help improve the way it looks, and most importantly, it reduces the hypersensitivity.

Hannah is also raising awareness at Leicester hospitals of the benefits of engaging with scar therapy and how much of a “huge difference” it can make to quality of life.

“Aftercare for your scars following cancer surgery is so important and can make a huge difference to quality of life but few people know about the benefits of scar therapy.

“Because of this, some people are not aware of how to touch and care for their scars or which products to use on their scars to enhance scar recovery,” she added.

“Scar therapy is a gentle, light touch, massage-based therapy to de-sensitise hypersensitive scars, reduce pain and pulling which some scars can cause and help with the aesthetics of the scar.

“Scar therapy cannot get rid of the scar but it can help to soften it. It is a holistic approach, looking at the whole person and acknowledging the emotional connections with the scar. We can also teach self-scar massage techniques, so individuals can continue Scar Therapy at home.”

A Macmillan spokeswoman told LeicestershireLive : “Currently there is no support offered to women with breast surgery scars despite the fact that they can cause constant pain and leave them unable to pick up their children, so Hannah has teamed up with Macmillan to launch an innovative new scar therapy service in Leicester.”