I found it trivialized the whole experience, much as I adore Jenni Murray. Two ladies giggling about 'boobs' when the truth of the matter is they were both manifestly deeply distressed, and naturally so, at the prospect, and in Jenni's case the fact, of the amputation of a sexual organ. Whatever the reasons for it, however you deal with the emotional effects of it, that is what it is.
She didn't ask the hard questions of the surgeon, as a journalist should do. An opportunity wasted.
Questions like: are you assiduous in ensuring informed consent, do you always explain everything to your patients, do you ever withhold information "to prevent unnecessary anxiety", do you always listen to your patients carefully and respond to their needs for information, how do you feel about operating on women with only DCIS when you know that 1 in 3 of screen-diagnosed treatments is unnecessary, do you inform your patients of the facts of overdiagnosis and overtreatment, are you able to discuss the human implications of this surgery with your patients, do you have any idea at all what the human implications of this surgery are, what emotional support can you offer to your patients after they have had this operation, what do you understand by 'body image', and do you recognize that there is a distinction between a problem with 'body image'- which is about having an incorrect perception of the acceptability to others of your appearance, and yourself - and a problem with your body - which is having a part of your sexual anatomy amputated, and which do you think you would have if your penis was amputated?
Listened to this today and am glad I did. I like Jenni Murray anyway, but she approached and handled the situations very well - a good balance of her personal experience and empathy, and clear questioning of the surgeon. They are a certain type and it's so important to have the technical brilliance AND bedside manner and approachability. Mine is definitley ruthless and brilliant and I'm very grateful! I've wondered what I looked like in the operating theatre!
I've just listened to the programme on play back and found it really interesting. I didn't have a mastectomy but Prof Bundred did my WLE and SNB in July last year. He was very matter of fact with the details but very approachable and wrote down everything that he said. What I appreciated was that even though he was running at least an hour late with the clinic, he was still prepared to listen and I didn't feel rushed. I thought the comment Ruthless and Brilliant was a bit OTT at first but on reflection tend to agree. Two traits needed to be a successful surgeon.
I had to stop half way through. I just could not cope with the surgery description. Too close to home I figure.
Ruthless and Brilliant: Today, 17th January 13:30 on BBC Radio 4 (FM only)
At the end of 2006 one of Radio 4’s longest standing presenters announced, very publicly, that she had breast cancer. Jenni Murray, who has been presenting Woman’s Hour for more than 20 years, told her listeners that she would be away from the microphone for a while, as she underwent treatment.
Jenni returned to work after a mastectomy and chemotherapy. Then in 2008 she was joined on the programme by the Irish journalist Lia Mills who had much of her jaw, neck and cheekbone removed after she was diagnosed with oral cancer. She described her surgeons as ‘ruthless and brilliant’ – brilliant enough to save her life and ruthless enough to take a knife to her face.
This got Jenni thinking – what does it take to lift a scalpel and cut into the most intimate and treasured parts of the human body?
This programme examines the extremes of surgery, and speaks to the doctors whose work saves lives, but also fundamentally changes them. How do you tell a patient that radical surgery is needed, as they beg you for an alternative?
The programme concentrates on maxillofacial, breast and prostate surgery. It will look at the relationship between patient and doctor as the various surgical options are considered.
As part of the programme Jenni will attend a mastectomy.