Sally Webster, Coronation Street and breast cancer this Xmas

As you may be aware, Coronation Street is running a breast cancer storyline this Christmas. On Christmas Day the character Sally Webster will reveal that she has just been diagnosed with breast cancer, with a further focus on the topic on Monday December 28th .

Breast Cancer Care has been talking with the Corrie script writing team as they developed the storyline, and one of the first questions we were asked was whether someone could be diagnosed with breast cancer on Christmas Eve, as Sally Webster is in the show.

While we’re aware of the emotional impact of such a story on Christmas Day, we are also aware that Sally will not have been the only woman to have received this devastating news so close to Christmas.

Since those initial discussions our medical team has been in regular contact with Coronation Street, sharing our clinical knowledge and experience of breast cancer to help influence their scripts.

We hope that by tackling this sensitive issue Coronation Street will help to raise awareness of the disease, as well as highlighting the many sources of information and support available for those affected by breast cancer - including Breast Cancer Care’s website and helpline.

We will be watching Corrie this Christmas with interest and as ever would welcome your views on how Sally’s experience of breast cancer is portrayed.

Thanks,

The Press Team.

Oooh I don’t think you will be short of people expressing their views on this…
I don’t have a problem with the storyline, as we all know breastcancer is part of everyday life for us all.What we all will have a problem with will be if it is not portrayed correctly or is sugar coated in any way. It is great that they want to raise awareness and that BCC has been involved ,I just hope that they have taken the time to speak to women who are going through this and it is told like it is…because quite frankly my head will explode if I have to explain away any inaccuracies to friends and family after having spent this year trying to educate them and making sure that they can understand a little of what I have been going through.

Sandra x

well BC strikes at any time so i don’t have a problem it being used in the storyline this christmas, but as its a bigger audience than normal i do hope they have taken on board the advice given by you folk at the BCC press office and don’t make a hash of it, will ITV be posting the message at the end of the programme asking people to call a helpline if they have been affected by the issues? and i hope that the BCC helpline is given out with that information

rhian x

Friend of mine is going for a biopsy a lump on her breast today. Wonder if she will get the results (hopefully good) before Christmas!

Thanks Poppy for starting this thread. I have been aware for a while of the storyline with Sally and like everyone else, am awaiting with anticipation to see how they will portray this. It will touch the hearts of many of us out there, but, as you say, hopefully bring more awareness of this awfull disease. I do hope that Corrie will touch on this subject with sensitivity and remember the effect it will have on all us that have been/or are going through it.
I, to, will be watching with interst!
deb x

Like many others i think this is a good thing. I am not a Corrie watcher, but i will watch with interest. As many have said i just hope that even tho this is a television programme they depict the reality of the disease - i also feel tho they probably will not be able to please ‘all people’ but lets at least hope they get the facts right.
Karen xx

I agree it is good to raise awareness of BC - as long as it is handled with sensitivity. Personally I would prefer it wasn’t shown on Christmas day and will try to avoid it.
cheers
caroline

hi,

I was dx 2 years ago on 21.12.09 very close to christmas as i too think it is good to raise awareness of Breast cancer. Yes christmas is a difficult time for me but as we all know to well we have to embrase the fact that we are still here and alive. (hard sometimes i know)

I hope to watch it too.

i mean i was dx on 21.12.07
sukes

i can certainly understand no-one wants to be reminded of their experiences of bc on xmas day, but i have had 2 serious ops near xmas, the first one i had op 13th dec and i was in hosp over xmas and my kids were only little and the 2nd i had op again it landed on 13th dec many yrs later and got out by the skin of my teeth on the 23rd dec and had to miss my booked xmas dinner because i was too ill to go, and i am now waiting for results of mri scan on 22nd dec after being dx for the 4rth time, so i would def say xmas time has a lot of horrible memories for me, but i will still watch corrie on xmas day because quite simply i am nosy and will want to see how they portray it.
i do believe though it is quite hard to always get the storylines correct, if you remember when peggy got bc in eastenders, the story lasted for a few months and for i don’t know how long now but it is has never been mentioned since, it’s like she had the measles, she got the treatment and was forever cured, and as we all know it is not like that and gives a lot of healthy people the idea it is and we are just a bunch of hydrocondriacs.
so lets hope corrie gets most of it right or as sandra say’s we will have to explain to our family and friends all the inaccuracies that they make.
lots of love reneexx

well done on BCC getting a chance to become involved with such an important issue raised in a forefront tv program that has a following. I suppose we can just wait to judge the result but I am sure that because we are individuals with separate thoughts and emotions we cant please everyone and that is ok too.

The point is that BCC has headed off the raw razzmatazz of dealing with bc and perhaps given some much needed thought process for the writers.

I am sure the comments post program will be lively and interesting and of course this is just the place to vent feelings and emotions and not live with them. Writing them down does wonders.

I dont happen to be a fan but am interested enough to watch it now so the advertising has already helped to sell the program but has it sold the cause? Reserving judgement.

Dx

I agree with Renee, I expect in 6 months time it wont be mentioned again and as we know life with bc is not like that! I was diagnosed 12 years ago and there hasn’t been hardly a day when i haven’t thought about it since.

As long as it ‘raises awareness’ of the reality of BC, then it is a good thing. I know too many friends who go on walks, raise money and preach ‘raising awareness’, but was very surprised that when I actually got it, no one had a clue as to what happens after the ‘awareness’. People are not ‘aware’ of the treatments; most think reconstruction is a bit like having a boob job and were shocked at the scars, the pain, the butchery of the treatments and the long term on-going treatments. On the one hand, reconstructions are amazing, but on the other mastectomy is a bit of a barbaric ‘just in case’ solution to pre-cancer (and some of those won’t even ever become cancer). I was told the op was first done in 1906. Diagnosis is not a neat thing with a clear solution and is just the start of a long journey for most. So, reality is the key - but it will be difficult to balance this with enough reassurance to help families going through it as actually, in real life, there isn’t much. However, if it gets more women to take up the offer of screening then that has to be good. I think it is the case that fewer women are attending their appointments and as 80% of the cases are in women over 50 that is a shame. I know that there are plenty of cases in younger women and that shouldn’t be overlooked, but if those of us over 50 do not use the screening service it will become too expensive to run and the effect will be devastating.

This will be a very difficult situation to cover as everybody’s experience and opinions differ. I think personaly that breast awareness is quite good at the moment although it could always be better…I became more aware due to a close friend having it 5 years ago, so when I found a lump I knew the right thing to do… I wouldn’t say that I was a very good checker of my boobs and who knows if maybe I was I would have found it earlier…This is where I feel awareness could probably be better, let’s face it, most women don’t know how to check their breasts properly and can still be said of women trying to check their healthy breast…and more attention should be applied to this… I don’t think it would do any good to portray BC as traumatic, which I know is a fact but if I were previously aware of what I know now before I had breast cancer I most certainaly would have been very scared… which I would never wish to instill into people.

A friend of a friend is due to go to the breast clinic on Xmas eve as she has found a lump, she is trying to defer her appointment till after Xmas as she does not want to hear bad news just before Xmas. She has been listening to my friend talk of my diagnosis and treatment and all the horrors that go with it for the last 10 months, and obviously she has learned of more details than I was aware of before my trip to the breast clinic…the point of fact being she is scared stiff!! too much information can be too much of a bad thing to some people and the last thing I would want to see is a fear of Breast cancer, this would lead to people “putting off” going to the doctor or clinic.

It was quite a shock to learn just how much about BC I wasn’t aware of at diagnosis…and I have noticed a lot of this with women on this site, looking back I don’t feel bad that I wasn’t as clued up on BC as it helped cushion the shock…I do however feel that once a diagnosis has been made then it should be made a priority to make sure that the patient has as much information as possible regarding their cancer and treatment…I have found that this is very thin on the ground and women then go on to feel very uninformed. This varies from health professional to health professional, some are better than others.

I don’t watch cornonation street nowadays but I will watch this(not on Xmas day but will record it!) It can’t have been an easy job for the writers and I don’t think for a minute that it will be very realistic… well, not as all us women know it to be anyway…!!

So pleased to hear BCC have been involved in this story line, i hope they have listened to you!! There will be lots of angry women if they haven’t! I am a corrie fan, but will not watch this on Christmas day, still too near!! Strictly is on the other side!!
I just hope they get it right!!!
love debs xxx

I do so agree with Feemac and Annie22.
Despite having known all too many people with BC (I’m now 67) AND actually losing 2 of my closest friends to it- AND my own daughter having BC diagnosed 7 years ago, I still can’t believe how clueless I was as to the reality of being diagnosed myself- the shock of it all…and the coming to terms with one’s own mortality after hearing the oncologist’s statistics.
I think what I resented the most of the complete loss of autonomy that followed- being carried along on the ‘cancer conveyor belt’- and of being reuced to being weak and poorly when one has always been strong and healthy: the surgery, chemo, rads etc - with all the waiting for test results, the post surgery infection, the horrible side effects of the chemo etc etc — and actually I think I got off very lightly compared to many people.
I now know one or two people my own age who will not go for any more mammos- for them, the reality of being diagosed is more frightening than just taking a chance: I know this isn’t logical or sensible - but I can see where they are coming from

I totally agree with Feemac - there is a line to be drawn between awareness and knowing what to do if you do find a lump or any signs, and what happens afterwards. Too much info can be too scary at first.

I would also say that for those who want them to show the ‘reality’ of the journey, that that reality is very different for many of us. We may all have BC, but we don’t react to it the same way, or we are at different stages (including emotional stages).

Some don’t find a mastectomy or hair loss an emotional wrench (i.e. me!), some don’t find chemo knocks them for six. Some do.

So if they don’t show the harsher and more severe side effects, it doesn’t mean it isn’t real - but it might help in making those who do get diagnosed a little less afraid of what they have to go through, and therefore they aren’t too scared to get diagnosed in the first place.

At the end of the day, this is a soap opera. Poetic license will be used, but most viewers know this.

In some ways the timeline of this storyline that is to appear on Coronation Street is somewhat uncanny given that today my wife and I were told by her consultant that she has Breast Cancer. Little that I currently know on the subject, I suppose there is no good time to receive the news, it worries (and also as a Coronation Street viewer) how accurately and simplistically they will approach the subject, especially in consideration of people like my wife who have just been diagnosed. From previous experience with other subjects that soaps have inaccurately covered that we have encountered such as IVF, I do wonder how they will cover this. If anything I hope it will make people more aware of the illness and how to diagnose etc…

Well, have just watched this and thought it was generally very well done. The “what to look out for” details that were worked into the script were well put and may very well save a life or lives.

I thought Sally’s response and emotions were certainly very representative of how a lof of women with a bc dx would be feeling although Kevin was rather calmer than my husband was! I thought Sally had just told him she’d forgotten to buy sprouts not that she had a potentially terminal illness. My poor dh nearly passed out, he was in such shock.

Hopefully, Molly’s misconception about “Pam’s friend” being alright after 3 months will be corrected in due course. Alternatively, maybe I could become Pam’s friend?! Part of the reality of bc is that other people are very ignorant about what goes on. It is a horrible irony with bc that you can be apparently well and yet very ill. Also, people see what they want to see and a lot of the ongoing treatment, appointments and worry isn’t seen.

Anyway, overall verdict is so far, so good… but why didn’t ITV put an “if you’ve been affected… here’s the BCC website” message at the end of the programme???

Cots64 - very sorry to read of your wife’s diagnosis, especially at this time of year. I would say that your best sources of information are sites like this one but first and foremost ask your own doctors. I used to write down qus as they occurred to me and then take them to my next appointment. They were always happy to answer and you are getting information direct from experts that is tailored to your wife. It is a complex illness not a one-cap-fits-everyone. Take care.

Oh… just looked on the ITV websites and it says that all the BC charities are shut until 29th December. Genesis appeal is more to do with the research side of things but why would BCC just shut down?? I’m assuming that’s correct but hardly seems a good idea.