How Gemma’s fears of chemotherapy were eased, and the special bonds formed at GenesisCare in Bristol

How Gemma’s fears of chemotherapy were eased, and the special bonds formed at GenesisCare in Bristol

Gemma Hopkins is a busy internal communications professional from Bristol age 40, married with a little girl and enjoys spending time with family, bike rides and boot camp. 

When her husband found a lump in her breast in September 2023, Gemma says “me being me - and probably like lots of other women - thought oh it's fine, it's nothing to worry about” and carried on with life as usual. 

After a month when it was still there, Gemma went to her GP who referred her for investigation. “My husband has private medical insurance for us through work, and given the GP’s concern, we didn’t want to delay. We booked an appointment at a one stop breast clinic, where I received a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy all in one appointment. Shortly afterwards I received my diagnosis of breast cancer, and it was the scariest day of my life. 

Further tests all seemed to happen very quickly until I was diagnosed with Grade 3 invasive ductal carcinoma, and told I needed chemotherapy, which is when I was referred to Dr Jeremy Braybrooke at GenesisCare in Bristol”. 

After completing her chemotherapy treatment (after 2 months of bi-weekly Epirubicin Cyclophosphamide, then 3 months of weekly Paclitaxel) Gemma shares her experience of being treated at GenesisCare in Bristol.

“When I was first told I was being referred for chemotherapy, I was terrified – it seemed such a big word. I remember thinking this isn’t going to be easy. On my first appointment, I arrived anxious but was immediately put at ease by the GenesisCare team. I was introduced to a chemotherapy nurse, Sam, who spent time discussing any concerns I had. I knew then I was in safe hands.

My fears of treatment soon disappeared. I saw the same nurses and staff at each visit, and we’ve all got to know each other; it’s a really nice atmosphere. I’ve formed bonds with other patients undergoing chemotherapy and were referred to as call ourselves “the Thursday crew”. One of my fondest memories is a fellow patient turning 60 on the day of their treatment who just wanted to dance with the pharmacist, who was also a Zumba teacher. We all danced whilst receiving our chemotherapy treatment, it is just like a little family.

Alongside chemotherapy treatment, I’ve really valued the complimentary support services available at the centre. I’ve had reflexology and am on a personalised program at the exercise clinic with twice weekly sessions.

The exercise clinic not only helped maintain my energy through chemotherapy but is also strengthening my body to prepare for my next stage of treatment, surgery. My prescribed exercises change every few weeks to adapt to me and my needs – it’s a truly personalised programme.

Reflecting on the time I’ve spent at GenesisCare, I’m so grateful for the care I received. From the receptionist through to consultants and nurses, they all put their arms around me, and are always there with anything I need. I’ve learnt that even in the very worst circumstances, with the right people around you, I was able to use humour and fun to raise spirits and keep positive.”