Kirsten's Story: Treating the person, not just the condition

After being diagnosed with cervical cancer, Kirsten was holistically supported before, during and after treatment by her health insurer. She has since been given the all-clear.

clock • 3 min read
Kirsten Randerson
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Kirsten Randerson

"It is devastating. Your mind is going 100 miles an hour. How am I going to tell my family? How am I going to tell my children? Work, responsibilities. Not knowing was really scary," explains Kirsten Randerson, Vitality employee and member.

When she underwent a routine NHS screening last November, Kirsten had no idea that several tests later, she would be diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Following an MRI scan, Kirsten was scheduled to receive a radical hysterectomy, requiring a minimum of three months off work.

In the weeks after the surgery, she suffered from a loss of appetite. And three months later, she is managing the mental and physical burden of having a medically induced menopause.

Kirsten's story illustrates that people living with cancer not only have to overcome challenges during the diagnosis and treatment phase of cancer, but also need support following treatment and during recovery. "It's about treating the person, not just the condition," she says.

Before, during and after treatment

Increasingly private medical insurance (PMI) has evolved to offer end-to-end services that operate across all stages of an individual's cancer journey - from prevention through to post-treatment and palliative care.

Vitality recently made a range of new enhancements to its already comprehensive health cover, so its members can access a range of holistic services all in one place. This includes access to physiotherapy, mental health guidance and self-help techniques. The PMI insurer has also introduced a cancer support pack for members, which brings together all the way it offers support throughout a cancer journey into a single guide, which includes signposting to relevant content, such as charities.

In Kirsten's case, a string of joined-up Vitality referrals - through its new Cancer Treatment Support Programme*  powered by OnkoHealth - enabled her to access a dietician when she was struggling to eat and maintain her nutrition. She also received hour-long consultations to set goals weekly and towards the end of the programme. To achieve her long-term goal of cartwheeling on a beach she has been seeing a physio.

Holistic support

"I am doing well now," she reveals. "I am in three-month monitoring. I have downloaded the Peppy app (referred to by Vitality), which has been incredibly helpful during my medically induced menopause. That's a whole new minefield!"

However, not all cancer sufferers are as fortunate as Kirsten. As well as the new cancer treatment support pathway, Vitality is adding enhanced supportive care that provides specialist and expert support for members with a non-curative diagnosis. "End-of-life care is an area that is often easily overlooked but is where expert support can have a meaningful impact," explains Danae Dudley-Hammatt, director of healthcare programmes at Vitality.

"Dealing with cancer extends beyond just treatment and our Cancer Treatment Support Programme provides personalised support through access and insight to a multi-disciplinary team. The programme is fully digital and integrated into the full Vitality offering to help more people like Kirsten," adds Danae.

While providing the right treatment and support to those living with cancer is vital, for Kirsten herself, detecting cancer as early as possible should always be the priority.

"Please get screened," she urges "For me it is the most important thing. It's not a nice thing to do. But for two minutes of your time, it is one of the most important tests. No matter how unlikely it might seem, it (cancer) can happen."

Kirsten's story was explored in a recent Clinically Speaking episode exploring cervical cancer and the importance of screening. Watch the video below.

Find out more about Vitality's recent enhancements to its health insurance offering, including cancer care expansion.

 

*Available to members with certain cancers

This post is funded by Vitality

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