“St Bartholomew’s never made me feel different or other because I’m a transgender woman” | Our news

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“St Bartholomew’s never made me feel different or other because I’m a transgender woman”

The team of uro-oncology clinical nurse specialists at St Bartholomew’s Hospital see many LGBTQ+ patients, including those who identify as transgender and non-binary.

The team – made up of Michelle Greenwood, Shiv Smith and Daniel Richardson – believe it’s vital to create an accessible service for LGBTQ+ patients – one that is open, honest and non-judgemental. 

“Now I’m recovering my energy and getting my life back” 

Lyra is a transgender woman who was treated for testicular cancer and hodgkin’s lymphoma by the uro-oncology and haematology teams at St Bartholomew’s. 

She first had an ultrasound through her GP surgery and was taken to Homerton Hospital before coming to St Bartholomew’s. 

Lyra was awaiting surgery for gender re-assignment, which had to be put on hold so she could have three cycles of chemotherapy. 

Uro-oncology clinical nurse specialist Michelle Greenwood first met Lyra in November 2018 after Lyra had an orchidectomy. 

An orchidectomy is a surgical procedure to remove a testicle.

Speaking about her care, Lyra said: “Michelle and Shiv were incredible throughout my journey.

“I arranged to meet with Shiv and myself and my partner sat down and told her how much I’ve been struggling. 

“She was very receptive, listened to me and made herself available to me when I needed extra help and support.

“It was really nice that she could provide useful information which made me more comfortable and helped me get through this difficult situation”, Lyra said. 

Lyra’s road to diagnosis wasn’t straight forward and was complicated by the two different cancer diagnoses. 

Michelle said: “Lyra had a stable response to chemotherapy and we watched her for a short while during which the remaining lymph nodes grew slightly. 

“The feeling then was that those nodes should be biopsied to confirm disease status and the biopsy showed hodgkin’s lymphoma.”

Lyra was then transferred to the haematology oncology team for further chemotherapy. 

Lyra said: “it was quite refreshing to interact with clinicians who made me feel like I could be myself. They never made make feel different or ‘other’ or mentally ill because I was transgender.” 

Lyra also joined the testicular cancer support group online prior to her second diagnosis. 

She disclosed her gender re-assignment to the group online and the rest of the men in the group were very supportive and very welcoming to her. 

Lyra said: “I would encourage LGBT+ patients to use the services at St Bartholomew’s because they’re so incredibly friendly. 

“Everybody I met was warm and welcoming and they never made me uncomfortable because of who I am. 

“Maggie’s and the services at the hospital really helped me not feel alone because I’m a woman with testicular cancer. 

“I went into remission with a bit of extra treatment and now I’m recovering my energy and getting my life back,” she added. 

The uro-oncology team at St Bartholomew’s treat metastatic kidney, prostate and bladder cancer patients using cutting edge evidence-based treatments and ground-breaking trials such as immunotherapy treatments. 

Testicular cancer patients treated at the hospital include those from stage one disease needing only surgery to cure their cancer, right through to those requiring intensive treatments for advanced or relapsed disease including high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplants.

Picture credit: Christine Havill Photography

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