Raigmore breast cancer specialist tells of her own fight against the disease after discovery during shift

© DC ThomsonRaigmore Hospital, Inverness.
Raigmore Hospital, Inverness.

A breast cancer specialist has revealed her own fight against the disease.

Dr Kay Kelly discovered a lump under her arm as she worked at her busy clinic at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

The mother-of-two said: “I was wearing a lightweight blouse and, as I crossed my arms, could feel it, obvious, in my left armpit.

“My immediate thought was that it had appeared in a relatively short time.

“I had checked myself not long before that and realised a sudden lump could be very bad news.

“As a specialist who worked in cancer care for nearly 20 years, I knew the real possibility of cancer.”

The clinician continued her day as normal before seeking the advice of a breast physician, who agreed to meet with her at the end of the day.

The discovery was suspicious enough to merit an immediate biopsy and she received her results a few days later while she was working at an outreach cancer clinic on Skye.

Dr Kelly told the Sunday Post: “I knew by the tone of the call that the news was not good.

“Throughout the drive back to Inverness I prepared myself for a diagnosis of cancer.

“I knew only too well that breast cancer is common, and can affect women like me… so why not me, I reasoned.”

Dr Kelly was diagnosed with an adenocarcinoma, which resulted in a mastectomy and chemotherapy.

Moving from doctor to patient proved hard, experiencing first-hand the feelings she had known second-hand via patients and family members.

After a year-off, Dr Kelly returned part-time but as an oncologist, it meant she was still thinking about cancer all the time.

She added: “After another 18 months, my most prominent fears were confirmed, and I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.”

She retired, and continues taking the cancer-fighting Herceptin drug.

“I am grateful that this has given me precious time with my children, now nine and 11.

“I am inspired by the many patients I have had the privilege of treating over the years… how they cope with the uncertainty and the physical symptoms.”