Former Paralympic and world single sculls champion, Helene Raynsford credits oncoplastic breast surgeon Tracey Irvine with saving her life and helping her to maintain her independence.
Helene was just 33 years of age when in 2013 she became the youngest member of her family to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
“My cancer journey was moving in a pre-defined direction along a conveyer belt,” said Helene.
“However, from my first appointment with Miss Irvine I came off that conveyor belt.
“It became an open discussion at which I, the patient, was at the centre. I became Helene again and not merely a patient number.”
Helene underwent surgery to remove the cancer and a successful breast reconstruction with Miss Irvine.
The surgeon also came to Helene’s aid when she needed further treatment for a spinal issue, tracking down the right clinician and helping her secure an appointment.
“Miss Irvine is a very compassionate doctor, who puts her patient at the centre of clinical decisions, giving you back control of something when at the time you feel unable to control very much.
“Without her wonderful care I would have lost more functions, both when directly in her care and when desperately needing access to further treatment outside of her specialty and Royal Surrey.
“She saved my life and ensured I kept as much independence as possible, something that is priceless to me and I am eternally grateful for her care.
Helene shared her moving story with attendees at Royal Surrey’s annual award ceremony, which took place at the Holiday Inn, Guildford, on Thursday, November 16.
She received a standing ovation alongside Miss Irvine, as the surgeon accepted the prestigious Chair’s Award at the event sponsored by Logan Construction.
Trust Chair, Sue Sjuve, said: “The chairs award allows me to shine a light on one individual or team who, I believe has shown the NHS at its very best and who truly embodies our values of caring together, learning together, continuously improving and excelling together.
“From nearly 200 nominations there were many that fit the description, but Tracey’s really stood out and stayed with me for the care, dedication and compassion that she demonstrated.
“She completely transformed Helene’s journey by making sure that she was at the heart of every clinical decision and gave her back a sense of control, when she felt unable to control very little in her life.”
Miss Irvine was one of 13 winners to be recognised as the Trust celebrated its dedicated and selfless staff and the outstanding contribution they make to healthcare excellence.
Chief Executive, Paula Head, added: “The NHS is facing increasing challenges and we know that our dedicated staff are dealing with this pressure 24 hours a day 365 days of the year.
“All of the finalists and winners demonstrated outstanding care and commitment to our patients and are true ambassadors for their profession.
“The evening would not have been possible without are sponsors, so a huge thank you to Logan Construction, Medirest, Bouygues, Eagle Radio, Gidden Place, Guildford Borough Council, Holiday Inn, K2 Consultancy, Safeguard Coaches and the University of Surrey.”