Friendship and laughter the best medicine for Wednesday Wonder Women – North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust

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A group of women who all bonded while battling cancer in the same hospital unit have celebrated the final treatment of one of their group’s members.

The self-titled ‘Wednesday Wonder Women’ saw Amanda Rees, from Norton – get to toll the final treatment bell in March at the University Hospital of North Tees.

The group was formed within the chemotherapy ward, after the seven members all found themselves diagnosed with breast cancer in the autumn of 2021.

The group is formed

Group member Dee Hall, from Billingham explained more: “Generally, Wednesday is breast treatment day in the chemotherapy department. There was this natural drawing together of a group of us who all would sit for treatment in the conservatory area.

“Jean Hurren and Bridget Caygill were the first two to meet, then myself, Amanda, Barbara Warin, Janice Allen and Alicia Hodgson all followed.

Jean said: “I remember that first week, I was alone. It was a terrifying prospect stepping into the unknown and having nobody else around me – then Bridget came and we got chatting. The Wednesday Wonder Women really started there.”

Alicia added: “Some of the treatments, such as the cold cap, can feel really isolating. So the group forming through shared circumstance was a blessing. We all found ourselves in this safe space, with somewhere to compare notes and share experiences with others who really understood what we were going through in that moment.”

Shared treatment experiences

The ‘Wednesday Wonder Women’ have continued to support one another throughout their breast cancer treatment, helping each other through the highs and lows, and sometimes frustrating treatment pauses – when a member hasn’t been quite well enough to get treatment one week.

Amanda said: “We have become each others’ safety nets and I know I have found some friends for life. We have also, jokingly, been told off for being too loud a few times – I never thought I would be told to stop laughing in a chemo unit – It’s amazing really.

“The nurses have been brilliant in supporting our little group. Making sure we’re all getting treatment around similar times so that we can have that catch up together. So that we can check in and see how everyone is doing – we can usually tell straight away if one off us is really struggling one week.”Amanda Rees rings her final treatment bell

Dee added “The staff have been incredible. They naturally just know when you need that extra support, or what to say to encourage you to push on. They can tell when something is off and are our psychological support line.”

“We have complete trust in the nurses, and know they are doing the best for us all to make sure we can all get through our treatment together.”

Barbara added: “Strangely enough, I look forward to my Wednesdays – to know I’m well enough to come to my next session and that I can see my friends and the staff. We’re really pushing each other to get better.”

First of the group to ‘graduate’

Amanda from the group has found herself the first to finish her treatment course sharing her thoughts as she rang the treatment bell: “It’s strange to think that my treatment is finished and I won’t have to come here every week. It will likely me on my mind for a little while as I go into the recovery phase of things.

“I know it will take a while to get back to normality – but I couldn’t have asked for a greater support network – my wonder women and the staff have all been a great support – they have become an extended family.”

When asked what they were all looking forward to once the whole group had completed their treatment Amanda said: “I know we’re all looking forward to being able to get all dressed up and go for a nice afternoon tea together at Wynyard Hall.

“In the meantime, we will be pushing each other through our treatments and encouraging one another in our recovery.”

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