I had mixed feelings when seeing this picture plastered over every newspaper the other day; on the one hand I think it is fantastic that someone who is widely known is being so open about having cancer and the treatment she is undergoing; on the other hand the image gives the impression that one operation has solved the problem and things are not really that simple.
If you read further about her cancer she says that surgeons “took away some of her lymph nodes” from under her arm because the contained “tiny bits of cancerous cells”. What this actually means is that her cancer has already spread to her lymphatic system and it may have gone further than her underarm as scans do not show up individual cells, just groups.
Looking at the Cancer Research UK site describing the stages of Breast Cancer she probably has at least stage 2 cancer, possibly later. Which means she still has an awful lot of treatment ahead of her which will include radiotherapy and chemotherapy at the very least. A column in The Independent from a fellow sufferer makes a similar point and describes briefly the treatment.
Victoria’s full diary is on the BBC web site and the linking page to it is really positive, however the following statement looks ill informed or just naive:
After receiving results from the tissue removed from her during the operation, Derbyshire has been told she needs radiotherapy and chemotherapy. She will have it in the coming months and will present her programme as much as she can during her treatment. She’s next back on air on 20 October.
“I’m not worried about that as the cancer is out of me, it’s gone. That’s just the next part of the treatment, the next part of the process. And in this whole process I haven’t actually felt ill once, and it’s bizarre,” she says.
Someone really should tell her that it isn’t gone, only the tumour is gone, she still has cancer cells in her body and being produced by her body. If it was gone she wouldn’t need radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
Don’t get me wrong here, I think she’s being incredibly brave and I really hope everything goes well for her. However I also think it is a bit irresponsible to give the impression that one operation has cured her cancer. I would imagine that there are a large number of fellow sufferers that hoped for the same thing only to find that their cancer journey was quite a bit harder.