The tribute to her husband, chef Jamie Oliver, on their 20th wedding anniversary last week was deeply personal — ‘We have created five wonderful children,’ Jools Oliver wrote on Instagram ‘and lost our five little stars in the sky’ — revealing the heartbreak of her miscarriages.
The loss of a baby, whether through miscarriage or stillbirth, is something women may carry with them all their lives. Yet it remains a taboo subject, with many women often suffering in silence.
The extent of this hidden heartbreak is revealed in the statistics: in the UK, one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage, with 85 per cent occurring in the first 12 weeks; and one in 200 pregnancies is a stillbirth (when the baby dies after 24 weeks’ gestation).
A recent study, the largest ever looking at the psychological impact of miscarriage in early pregnancy, found that a third of women suffered post-traumatic stress. A year later, nearly one in five was still affected. Another 35 per cent experienced anxiety or depression.
The loss of a baby, whether through miscarriage or stillbirth, is something women may carry with them all their lives. Yet it remains a taboo subject, with many women often suffering in silence
The researchers at Imperial College London suggested women should be checked for psychological problems after the loss of a baby, to identify those who would benefit from help such as counselling.
Wanting to help others affected by baby loss, the 13 women you see here are sharing their stories. Almost all received no counselling, but since being brought together by photographer India Lane — who herself had two miscarriages — they’ve found in each other invaluable support.
Here, they talk about their losses — and some also describe the joy of their ‘rainbow babies’, the term used for a subsequent successful birth after loss.
Their hope is to show other women that they are not alone.
A BIRTH DOESN’T CANCEL OUT THE PAIN
ABBEY POST, 23, a hospital cleaner, lives in Truro, Cornwall, with her partner Tom, 29, a road maintenance worker, and their baby Maisie, 15 months.
I was lying on the scanning table staring at the ceiling in complete shock. I was 28 weeks pregnant with twins — a boy and a girl — and suddenly I was being told that one of them had no heartbeat.
I’d come to the routine scan on my own as I hadn’t expected there was going to be anything wrong. The day before they’d been fine — I could feel both of them kicking — and now my son had died.
They kept me in overnight and, by chance, I went into labour that same night. I was crying while pushing. Maisie was born three hours after Oscar. He looked perfect and I just couldn’t stop crying.
Oscar was placed in a cot by my bed and I cuddled and kissed him for hours. We read stories and sang to him. It was very precious spending those moments with him.
We were offered counselling but at the time I didn’t feel strong enough to do it. And we wanted to focus on Maisie. She was only 2lb 4oz when she was born and spent three months in hospital. She’s now 15 months. As she grows up, we will tell her about Oscar. He is still part of our family and we write his name on our Christmas cards.
Losing a child affects everyone. Tom couldn’t bear to walk past the twins’ bedroom and couldn’t bond with Maisie at first as he thought he was going to lose her, too.
And we struggled to talk about it with family and friends, especially as one child survived. People don’t realise that a birth doesn’t cancel out the heartbreak.
MISCARRIAGE LASTED FIVE MONTHS
ELEANOR JENKINS, 21, lives in Newport, South Wales, with her partner Lee Smith, 23, and their daughter Esme, now 16 months.
Eight weeks after Esme was born I was pregnant again — it was a lovely surprise. But then I got to 11 weeks and started to bleed.
A scan showed the baby’s heartbeat had stopped.
I bled for two weeks and then had a very heavy bleed while we were on holiday a few months later.
Part of the pregnancy still hadn’t come away and it had caused an infection, so I needed antibiotics. And then I had to have an operation with a suction device to clear out my womb as I was still bleeding.
Having such a long, drawn-out miscarriage — over five months — made it all so much harder.
Some people think it’s a quick, sharp pain that’s soon over, but it’s been a difficult mental struggle to come to terms with what has happened and move on.
Women are expected to have babies, so when you can’t, you feel as though you’re doing something wrong and that you aren’t a proper woman.
It’s hard, too, being young, as people say you have plenty of time left to try again, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Talking with others really helps, though.
I’m now 25 weeks pregnant but that loss will always be there.
I THOUGHT IT WAS ALL MY OWN FAULT
ALICIA MINNS, 26, a support worker for adults with learning difficulties, lives in Camborne, Cornwall, with her daughter Alyvia Rose, who’s one.
I didn’t get out of bed for a month after I lost my baby. I locked myself away because I just couldn’t face anyone. I thought it was all my fault; that it was something I had done. Maybe I hadn’t drunk enough water, or I hadn’t rested enough while pregnant.
I’d become pregnant within a week of coming off the Pill in September 2017. My then partner, Dan, and I were really pleased.
But at eight weeks I started spotting blood. A scan showed the baby was OK but small.
Two weeks later, a check-up growth scan showed the heartbeat was weak and I was warned that the baby wasn’t going to make it.
After that, I bled for two nights and lost the baby.
Six weeks later, I was pregnant again. Because of my anxiety, the hospital gave me scans at six weeks, then eight, 11 and 12 weeks. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I was rushed to hospital with severe pre-eclampsia [high blood pressure that can be life-threatening to both mother and baby]. The baby’s heart rate had dropped, so they needed to get her out, even though she was seven weeks premature.
I was shocked at how tiny she was, but thankfully she made it and after three weeks I was able to bring her home. But my relationship with Dan broke up under the strain of it all. Until you go through a miscarriage, you don’t realise how many women experience the same pain. I hope our stories reach other women to support them.
WE SPLIT UP BECAUSE OF THE STRAIN
JODIE CHAPPELL, 22, a beauty adviser at Sainsbury’s, lives in Hayle, North Cornwall.
All around me in the unit were pregnant women, some clutching scan photos and crying with happiness — which made my loss even harder to deal with.
This was my first baby. I’d gone into hospital with a sharp pain in my side, and shortly after was given an injection to terminate the pregnancy. And that was it. It was incredibly difficult. I had counselling for a few months after, which helped. Five months later, in late 2017, I had a miscarriage at six weeks. Then my relationship broke down as losing two babies had caused a big strain on us.
I met my new partner last year and became pregnant, but lost the baby at five weeks, in July. Now that I’ve lost three, doctors are looking into why it is happening.
They think my levels of progesterone [the hormone that makes the womb lining thicken and helps an embryo implant] may be abnormal. Each time, it’s harder to deal with the loss. Seeing other mums pushing prams is heartbreaking and I try to avoid them. But it feels like I see more babies and pregnant women than I remember doing before. It’s hard telling friends how I feel. I just pray that one day I’ll have my rainbow baby.
COULD I HAVE DONE ANYTHING DIFFERENT?
POLLY DIXON, 20, an assistant manager at Thorntons, lives in Redruth, Cornwall. Her partner, Bailey Edmeads, 22, works for an electrical firm.
Walking away from the hospital empty-handed was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. My baby Scarlett was stillborn after going through hours of labour. I felt so lost. As Bailey numbly put away the bouncer and cot we’d bought, I kept looking at my tummy, waiting for it to move.
There had been no warning signs. My pregnancy had gone smoothly and at 20 weeks we learned we were expecting a girl. She was such a wriggler we called her Captain Wriggle Pants.
I went into labour ten days after my due date in February last year, but the hospital sent me home as I was only 1cm dilated.
As the labour pains intensified I went back, only to be told I still wasn’t dilated enough and to go home again.
After six hours, I started to pass out with each contraction because it was so painful. Bailey rang the hospital and this time they sent a midwife. To our horror, she said she couldn’t find Scarlett’s heartbeat.
We went straight to hospital and they confirmed she’d died during those six hours. The post mortem found she’d died due to an amniotic fluid infection, which is linked to prolonged labour. If I’d been induced when I went into hospital, my baby would probably have been born healthy.
Afterwards I asked myself if I could have done anything different, such as demanding to stay in hospital. You do feel very alone, so I’m glad to have found this group.
PEOPLE ARE SCARED TO TALK ABOUT LOSS
JESSICA ANGOVE, 27, a full-time mum, lives in Redruth with her partner Jordan, 27, a maintenance engineer, and daughters Lilly, nine, and Amirah, three.
The doctors discovered there was something wrong with Alfie when I went for my 20-week scan. He had a congenital heart defect and blood couldn’t flow around his body properly.
They offered to terminate my pregnancy but I refused. I gave birth at 32 weeks.
Alfie weighed 3lb 6oz at birth, which was too small for the operation he needed to give him a fighting chance. We were hoping he’d grow to 7lb quickly so the surgeon could operate.
But when he was nine weeks old, Alfie developed an infection and was put on life support. We had to decide to switch it off and then he passed away in my arms.
When something like that happens, you must find strength from somewhere to keep going. For us, that was Lilly, who was then five. A week after losing Alfie, I found I was pregnant with Amirah. It felt like a gift from Alfie.
People are afraid to talk about losing children like this, but as someone who has been through it myself, I can’t wait to share my experience to help others.
MISCARRIAGE WAS HARDER GIVEN MY AGE
KELLY OLIVE, 41, a full-time mother, lives in Truro with her partner Paul, 44, a plasterer, and children Corey, 17, Lacey, 12, Lola, 11, Derby, ten, and Leyland, four.
My first miscarriage at the age of 19 was terribly traumatic. I caught my baby, still in the amniotic sac, as it miscarried at 11 weeks while I was in the bathroom.
I had another miscarriage at eight weeks soon after. Each one was followed by a real sense of loneliness, and a fear I was never going to be a mum.
When I became pregnant with Corey, I kept going to the bathroom to check I wasn’t bleeding.
I had another two miscarriages after Corey was born, and my next pregnancy was ‘molar’, where an abnormal fertilised egg grows into a fluid-filled mass of cells instead of a baby. It can turn cancerous, so I had surgery to remove it.
With my daughters, each pregnancy was fine, but with Leyland I started bleeding a few weeks into the pregnancy and thought I was going to lose him, too. But he was born safe and well, and we felt so lucky.
We decided to try for one more baby, but when I was eight weeks pregnant, doctors discovered that it was ectopic [where the egg implants outside the womb] and I was given injections to terminate the pregnancy. I mourned so much for that lost baby.
After each miscarriage, I knew I could try again, which made it easier — but this time I knew it was the last because of my age. The support of this amazing group of women helps me through.
I THINK ABOUT MY LOSS EVERY DAY
LUCY DOHERTY, 27, a fitness instructor, lives in Redruth, with daughter Grace, five, and son Coby, one.
I could see my baby moving on the scan and I was so excited but the midwife was scanning me for ages. It was 2012 and this was my first baby, so I didn’t know anything was wrong.
Then another midwife came in and told me that my poorly baby probably wasn’t going to survive. There was fluid built up near his neck and they needed to do more scans to find the cause — but two days before the scans, at 16 weeks, his heart stopped.
Nothing can prepare you for this sort of pain. I spent time with him after he was born and took handprints and footprints. Then the vicar came and blessed him.
I held a funeral two weeks later. The night before I haemorrhaged badly as I had retained some of my placenta, but I discharged myself for his funeral and had an operation to clear out my womb the next day. It hurt mentally and physically.
A post mortem confirmed that Noah had Edwards’ syndrome, caused by a random genetic defect.
When I became pregnant with Grace, I was petrified that the same thing was going to happen and didn’t really believe I’d be going home with a baby until I carried her out of hospital. I was nervous again with Coby, too, but he arrived smoothly. I feel so lucky to have them both, but not a day goes by when I don’t think about Noah.
NO SYMPATHY IF ALREADY A MUM
Ashleigh Hearley, 23, lives in Helston, Cornwall, with her partner and their daughters Ava-Mae, aged four, and twins Amelia and Alyssa, 19 months.
I’d already given birth to my three daughters when I became pregnant for the fourth time. I never imagined anything could go wrong this time as I’d already had three healthy pregnancies.
I was looking forward to giving my daughters another little brother or sister, but then I started bleeding when I was just five weeks.
The doctors gave me a pregnancy test. The week before it had been positive but this time it came back negative. It made me wonder if I’d done anything wrong this time.
Losing a baby is difficult: it doesn’t matter if you already have children, as you grieve for that life that is lost. People are not always as sympathetic as they might be — they say: ‘Well, at least you have children.’
SEVEN MISCARRIAGES — NOW BABY JOY
KERRIE RICHARDS, 30, a former nursery manager, lives in Redruth with her partner Richard, 34, a scrapyard recycler, her stepdaughter Brodie, 13, and son Jimmie, one.
I’d lost seven babies over seven years before finally giving birth to Jimmie.
I nearly died after my second miscarriage — I was rushed to the operating theatre at 11 weeks with internal bleeding.
The baby had been growing in the fallopian tube, which had ruptured. Afterwards, the surgeon said I was very lucky to be alive as I’d lost four litres of blood. That frightened me, but I just had to keep trying.
Conceiving didn’t seem to be a problem: the difficulty was staying pregnant.
In March 2015, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, which can affect hormone levels and cause fertility problems. I was given medication, but over the next three years I had another five miscarriages. I’d almost lost all hope, but then the doctors changed my medication — up until then I’d been on Clomid and they thought it might have been encouraging me to release eggs a little too early.
Three months later, I was pregnant. When I was still pregnant at 12 weeks and saw the baby on the scan, I was overcome: it was the first time ever I’d seen a heartbeat and its little hands and feet moving.
I’m a mum at last! I don’t know if we will try again. For now, we are just cherishing every moment with Jimmie.
LOST TWO OF HER TRIPLETS
ROXIE YOUNG, 31, a full-time mother, lives in Hayle with her husband Dan, 32, a retail manager, and daughters Enya, seven, and Eris, three.
It was a shock to find out I was pregnant with triplets, as I thought I was having another miscarriage. I’d already had two a few years before, which were awful. I was about eight weeks pregnant each time, and it felt as though I couldn’t talk about them with anyone, especially friends who had had babies.
Having a triplet pregnancy was risky and doctors suggested a selective termination to reduce the number of foetuses, but I refused: I wanted to give them all a chance.
At 23 weeks, doctors found that one of them, Etta, had died. It was such a shock and I was very anxious about the remaining two babies.
Then, at 32 weeks, I suddenly felt dizzy and sick and a scan showed I’d lost Elda. I started screaming for them to get my last baby, Eris, out before I lost her too. The three babies were delivered 12 hours later.
Dan was a great support, but even so, I felt very alone and scared. Being able to talk to the other women in this group has really helped me.
AN EARLY LOSS IS STILL A LOSS
GEMMA RICHARDS, 26, a carer, lives in Constantine, Cornwall, with her husband Gareth, 32, a mechanic, daughter Lizzie, six, and sons Tyler, four, and Oscar, one.
I was in the shower when I started bleeding at five weeks. Losing the baby caused so much tension that Gareth and I nearly split up. We were too grief-stricken to talk to each other and I cried myself to sleep most nights.
At one point, I drove all the way to Somerset alone and considered taking my own life.
It was only the support of friends and family that got me through it, and then Gareth and I started talking.
It was a while before we were ready to start trying again. We tried for about two years before I became pregnant with Oscar — it was only after I saw the heartbeat on my 12-week scan that I felt I could tell friends.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s an early miscarriage, or a later one — or if you already have children. It’s a loss whenever it happens and mums need support through it all. And dads, too. I hadn’t realised at the time how much it had hit Gareth.
I THOUGHT I’D NEVER BE A MUM
INDIA LANE, 25, a photographer, lives in Camborne, Cornwall, with fiancé Steven, 22, a stay-at-home father, and daughter Esmae, one.
After going through two losses with my previous partner, I really thought I would never be a mum.
I became pregnant for the first time in 2015 after trying for months. I was so excited, but at six weeks, I had an emergency scan and the sonographer took ages to find the heartbeat and eventually turned to me and said that she couldn’t find one. I couldn’t take it in at first.
I was pregnant again just a few months later, but the same thing happened. Having two miscarriages took its toll on my relationship and we broke up.
Then I met Steven in August 2017 and we started trying for a baby. When I became pregnant with Esmae, I experienced the same pains and bleeding.
I was terrified it was happening again but when an emergency scan showed a heartbeat and I saw her moving around on the screen, I couldn’t stop crying. To this day, I feel so incredibly lucky to be a mum.
I miscarried another baby at nine weeks shortly after. But this time it was worse — more like experiencing labour pains. I had seven hours of contractions, followed by seven weeks of bleeding and passing clots.
I know how devastating it is to lose babies, so after my third loss I decided I needed to do something to help others. That’s why I put together this group — and it’s been an incredible privilege working with all these brave women and sharing our stories.
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BARNEY CALMAN: Cystic fibrosis sufferers finally get ‘wonder drug’ after endless talks
Dare we dream? Amid the flurry of tweets in response to our articles over the past fortnight that predicted the Government would soon strike a deal for a lifesaving cystic fibrosis drug, this simple sentence stood out.
It summed up the hopes – and fears – of thousands of British families blighted by this horrible illness, which kills many sufferers before they reach their 40s.
Last Tuesday, the drug, Kaftrio, was approved – and the dream finally became a reality, just as we had said it would. It was a watershed moment, and an end to many months of uncertainty. And the relief last week among both campaigners and those involved in the negotiations was palpable.
The deal is, we can reveal, the biggest of its kind in NHS history – potentially amounting to £1billion over the next four years.
But thousands of patients can now plan a future – one that’s not defined by pain, infections, hospital visits and gradually failing lungs. For those who are severely ill, the drug isn’t simply a lifeline, but a chance to live normally again.
Over the past six months, in the run-up to last week’s announcement, the MoS has published a series of reports, lifting the lid on the secretive negotiations between NHS England and drug company Vertex on access to cystic fibrosis drugs.
BARNEY CALMAN: The deal is, we can reveal, the biggest of its kind in NHS history – potentially amounting to £1billion over the next four years
What was discussed during these talks is ‘commercially sensitive’, hence their shadowy nature – and patients were increasingly surprised that we knew so much.
There are limits to what I can say, in order to protect the identity of our sources, but I’d like to take this opportunity to clarify a few points. We ran our first report last November, revealing that the Government had just signed a £100million deal for the now pretty much ‘obsolete’ cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi.
It followed a row over cost for the tablets that began in 2017 – a dispute that dragged on so long that by the time an agreement was reached at the end of October 2019, the newer and vastly more effective Kaftrio was already being given to patients in America (where it’s known as Trikafta).
When Orkambi was introduced in July 2015, it was the best drug on offer. Patients, of course, wanted access – the drug would, and has, made a difference.
But overall the health improvements were often modest, many didn’t benefit, and many suffered intolerable side effects. Alone, it wasn’t worth the money.
However, the drug’s maker, Vertex, was asking the NHS to invest in the future: buy Orkambi now, at the high price being asked for, and you can have Kaftrio when it comes out in a few years for no extra cost. A so-called pipeline deal.
NHS England and its financial advisers, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), refused. Things became acrimonious.
Vertex was repeatedly and publicly accused by our politicians and health chiefs of ‘poor practice’ for not ‘complying’ with their wishes and told they ‘ought to know better’. But by mid-2018 it was apparent from clinical trial results that Kaftrio was ‘the one’ everyone had been waiting for – ‘almost a cure’.
BARNEY CALMAN: Over the past six months, in the run-up to last week’s announcement, the MoS has published a series of reports, lifting the lid on the secretive negotiations between NHS England and drug company Vertex on access to cystic fibrosis drugs
The company, really, held all the aces. And then, in May 2019 came a shocking decision that still makes little sense: the NHS agreed to take the triple therapy ‘off the table’ in talks, in order to get Orkambi at a lower price.
In the run-up to the General Election, health chiefs had been under increasing pressure from Ministers to close the deal. But this ultimately meant three days after Kaftrio was approved in America, Orkambi – by then a five-year-old medicine that had been superseded – was given to UK patients.
We were approached with the story by a group of whistleblowers, who told us how the NHS had not only ‘bought the wrong drug’ – but also that there was little hope of a resolution over Kaftrio. These were not the kind of people who normally talk to the press. But with a progressive condition such as cystic fibrosis, every single day counts – and they felt they could not afford further delay or deadlock.
By making public what had been going on, they hoped to heap pressure on dealmakers to come to an agreement swiftly. And it worked.
After our report, both parties returned to the negotiating table. Talks faltered again in May, but then came a breakthrough. Again, we ran stories to let them know that the world was watching. And finally, last week, came the result everyone had longed for. But did it have to be so difficult?
The main lobbyists, the CF Trust, are a focal point in the cystic fibrosis community, providing ground-level support to families, giving advice and funding research. To say they are an integral part of thousands of patients lives is no understatement.
BARNEY CALMAN: We were approached with the story by a group of whistleblowers who told us how the NHS had not only ‘bought the wrong drug’ from Vertex (pictured, HQ in Boston, US) – but also, that there was little hope of resolution over Kaftrio
But, as contentious as it is, there are some who say the Trust should not have campaigned for Orkambi, when the superior Kaftrio was on the near horizon.
As far back as 2018, Kaftrio was already transforming the health of patients in trials. But when the drug was ‘taken off the table’ in talks, prior to the Orkambi deal last year, there appeared to be no public objection from them.
It was common knowledge in the medical world by that time just how important Kaftrio was, so even some of those inside the Trust felt this was a missed opportunity. By the time the Kaftrio agreement was being thrashed out this year, the Trust appeared to have neither the ear of the Government, nor the drug company.
Indeed, just a few weeks ago staff were reportedly told by boss David Ramsden that access to Kaftrio was ‘a long way off’ – at the very point that Ministers and Vertex were moving to close the deal.
On Twitter, where cystic fibrosis campaigners are highly active, the Trust dismissed our reports that an agreement was close, saying it would be ‘months’ before anything happened.
Given there was such urgency for the medicine during the Covid-19 pandemic – those with cystic fibrosis are at high risk – the mixed messages caused anxiety and upset. And, of course, the Trust was wrong in this instance.
A CF Trust spokesman said: ‘We are incredibly proud to have worked alongside the cystic fibrosis community in the long campaign for life-saving medicines. The four-year battle to secure Orkambi was a critical step and it remains the only medicine suitable for many children. We have and will always fight for those with cystic fibrosis.’
And, to their credit, the Government and health chiefs have listened, and delivered. They did the deal they should have done almost a year ago – and, some feel they would have, if they’d been better advised by the CF Trust.
In the end, the patients, parents, and concerned supporters who fought for Kaftrio dared to dream, and they won.
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Breast cancer patients to be spared surgery thanks to ‘magnetic’ seed smaller than a grain of rice
Advanced breast cancer patients may be spared debilitating surgery thanks to a magnetic ‘seed’ implanted in the armpit.
The pioneering device – smaller than a grain of rice – helps surgeons spot cancerous tissue so it can be removed without damaging surrounding healthy tissue.
At present, some women have an operation to remove all the lymph glands under their arms, as this can be the first area that tumour cells spread into, but this can have irreversible repercussions.
Lymph glands, or nodes, are a vital part of the lymphatic system, which helps the body fight off infection. Removing them disrupts the circulation to and from the arms, and women can be left with chronic pain and swelling, known as lymphoedema.
Advanced breast cancer patients may be spared debilitating surgery thanks to a magnetic ‘seed’ – called Magseed – implanted in the armpit
The pioneering device – smaller than a grain of rice – helps surgeons spot cancerous tissue so it can be removed without damaging surrounding healthy tissue (stock photo)
The new implant, called Magseed, acts as a marker, allowing surgeons to flag and remove only cancerous nodes, sparing the healthy ones.
When women are first diagnosed with breast cancer, they undergo a series of tests. X-rays are taken to see if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the underarm area – which happens in half of all cases.
Nodes that are enlarged are considered to be a sign of cancer.
Surgeons may also carry out a minor procedure called a biopsy, which involves taking a tiny piece of tissue from problem lymph nodes and testing it.
Historically, breast cancer patients with cancerous lymph nodes had surgery to remove the disease, followed by chemotherapy and drugs to control any spread.
The new implant, called Magseed, acts as a marker, allowing surgeons to flag and remove only cancerous nodes, sparing the healthy ones (stock photo)
Now, many patients have chemotherapy and medication first, which makes the tumours smaller and subsequent surgery to remove them more straightforward. But chemotherapy also reduces the size of cancerous lymph nodes.
In the past, before chemotherapy, a minor procedure was performed to attach clips to cancerous nodes, marking them out to be removed during surgery. But when the lymph nodes shrink during chemotherapy, these become loose and can slip off, so surgeons struggle to tell which have been identified as cancerous.
‘The result is that surgeons remove unnecessary amounts of healthy tissue to be sure they’ve removed the cancer,’ say Mr Peter Barry, consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.
Now, due to the Magseed’s ribbed texture, it stays in place on the lymph node throughout the patient’s chemotherapy treatment.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE… between dynamic and static stretching?
Stretching helps loosen the body and prevents injury. Static stretching involves moving a joint or muscle as far as it can go, such as reaching down to touch your toes, and then holding that position for a length of time.
It is an effective way of cooling down after exercise.
Dynamic stretching is a good way of slowly warming up the muscles. Instead of holding a position, you repeatedly move the joints and muscles in a controlled fashion, such as continuous high-knee marching.
This elevates the heart rate and body temperature, and therefore flexibility, ahead of the main activity.
A few weeks before chemotherapy, the tiny magnetic screws are implanted in the problem lymph nodes via a series of injections in the armpit area. The procedure lasts less than five minutes, under local anaesthetic, with surgeons using ultrasound scans to guide them.
Surgery to remove the cancer takes place six months later, after the first course of chemotherapy treatment has finished.
On the morning of the surgery, a specialised X-ray, known as a CT scan, is performed to show the position of the glands. The patient is then taken into theatre, where a magnetic wand, called Sentimag, is used to locate each Magseed, helping the surgeon identify the previously marked lymph nodes, which are then removed, leaving behind as much healthy tissue as possible.
A test is performed on the extracted nodes, to look for signs of cancer.
‘This tells us immediately whether the chemotherapy has worked – and if a patient needs more treatment,’ says Mr Barry.
‘If it has, there’s no need to remove any further tissue.’
If cancer is detected, patients return two weeks later for another operation to remove more nodes.
Jeevarani Sivapryan, 40, from Surrey, was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2018. It had spread to nearby lymph nodes.
After diagnosis, the mother-of-three had the Magseed injected in her cancerous node, prior to a six-month course of chemotherapy.
The next year, in February, she underwent surgery. With the help of the Magseed, her surgeon removed the breast tumour, the cancerous node and a few surrounding it.
Tests to see if the chemotherapy had eradicated the disease came back negative so no further lymph nodes needed to be removed.
‘To be given this early-warning sign that my chemotherapy had worked was fantastic,’ she says. ‘I have a tiny scar under my armpit where it was inserted and removed, but that’s it. Anything which reassures women with breast cancer that their disease has gone is a massive achievement.’
WEIRD SCIENCE: The man who became a giant overnight
A 64-year-old man from the Netherlands developed a condition overnight whereby he perceived everyone – and everything – to be tiny (pictured, 2016’s The BFG film)
Would you like to be a few inches taller?
A 64-year-old man from the Netherlands developed a condition overnight whereby he perceived everyone – and everything – to be tiny.
Despite being of average build, in his mind he’d become a giant.
Doctors reported he would buy extra-large clothes and would avoid doors and corridors for fear he wouldn’t fit through them.
However, brain scans revealed he’d suffered a stroke, resulting in significant damage to the regions of the brain involved in spatial awareness and leaving him in a permanently ‘shrunken’ world.
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HEALTH NOTES: Thousands of children miss out on jabs because their mothers have mental health issues
At least 5,000 children in the UK miss out on potentially lifesaving vaccines every year because their mothers have mental health problems, research has revealed.
Conditions such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders leave mothers less likely to attend routine appointments where injections are given to protect under-fives against measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough and diphtheria.
The Manchester University team tracked almost 480,000 families over 12 years and found infants whose mothers had psychiatric struggles were 14 per cent less likely to get all their jabs than those whose mothers were healthy.
Dr Cemre Su Osam, from the university’s Centre for Women’s Mental Health, who co-authored the study, said the findings were a ‘public health concern’.
At least 5,000 children in the UK miss out on potentially lifesaving vaccines every year because their mothers have mental health problems, research has revealed (stock photos)
Blowing away sleep apnoea
Learning to play a wind instrument could help the five million Britons blighted by the condition sleep apnoea.
Research shows that blowing into instruments that use two reeds, such as the oboe, firms up muscles in the airways. In sleep apnoea, soft tissue in the throat restricts intake of air, causing snoring.
Learning to play a wind instrument could help the five million Britons blighted by the condition sleep apnoea (stock photo)
This disrupts breathing and wakes sufferers every few minutes, putting them at risk of high blood pressure. Scientists at the Academic Centre for Dentistry in Amsterdam used data from studies involving patients who took up wind instruments.
The results, in the Journal Of Clinical Sleep Medicine, showed they snored less and woke less often.
A charity project that is posting free family photographs to dementia patients is hoping they’ll ease lockdown isolation and spark buried memories.
Research shows that looking at pictures of loved ones can increase feelings of comfort and safety among people with early-stage dementia.
The joint initiative, by the Alzheimer’s Society and printing firm Citizen Systems, is offering 25,000 free photo postcards.
Family members can simply upload their pictures at myphotomessages.com and type in a message, and the card is delivered in a few days.
Twice as many younger smokers have quit the habit due to Covid-19 fears compared with those over 50, according to research by University College London (stock photo)
Young smokers fear Covid
Twice as many younger smokers have quit the habit due to Covid-19 fears compared with those over 50, according to research by University College London.
Despite facing half the risk of death from the virus than their elders, the study shows that Britons under 30 were much more likely to give up smoking in an effort to avoid becoming seriously ill.
Pressure group Action On Smoking And Health suggest several factors could be behind the pattern, including less peer pressure in pubs and bars, financial insecurity and moving back to the family home.
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