Hectic world of a nurse and mother May 17 2004
By The Huddersfield Daily Examiner
SUSAN Booker got into breast care by accident really.
She used to be a sister at Jimmy's - St James's Hospital - in Leeds when a secondment came up in the office next door.
At first she said no but then changed her mind, went for the interview and got the job. She's never looked back.
Her day starts when Libbie, her 8-month-old daughter, wakes for a breast-feed at about 2.30am and 5.30am. Mum prepares breakfast for Sam, four, and Jack, seven. Dad Martin's up last and the family are usually ready for 7.15.
"I don't have breakfast," she said. "I'd only rush it down anyway."
She drops Libbie off at nursery and it's often a half hour journey to HRI from Liversedge.
"It's really quiet first thing and I can get lots more done without interruptions," said Susan. "Usually any reports get done next, then more admin work."
She attends clinic every morning and checks medical documents.
The Macmillan staff run their own, nurse-led, clinic for follow-up patients on Tuesday mornings. They basically check you over like the doctor would have done previously and answer any queries or worries the patient might have.
Susan's dad had lung cancer. "I know what it feels like to be at the other side. There wasn't the back-up then. No nurses to turn to."
She spends a lot of time talking to patients and listening to their concerns. "Often a patient's first question after being diagnosed is, Am I going to die? You get to follow their progress through from beginning to end and when they have gone through surgery and chemo, then come out the other end being able to get on and move forward. It's so fulfilling.
"I feel OK crying with them sometimes but it's usually happy tears when the news is good. After all I have to keep professional."
Susan usually eats when she has time, on the go or in the office.
The job is varied and every day is different. There are home visits, teaching at university and giving talks about breast awareness.
Then there's giving out information to patients about reconstruction or post-surgery exercises, special bras for prosthesis, and the all-important wigs.
"After a busy day I go to pick up Libbie from nursery," said Susan.
"She's a lovely contented little baby and doesn't bat an eyelid when I collect her."
Sam usually bounces all over her when she arrives home, and she plays with him until tea time. Her mum, aged 74, lives with them in a granny flat and is a constant source of support.
"We all like to sit around the table together to discuss our days," she said. "I feel guilty sometimes but my children are all very happy."
How does she relax?
"I do yoga on Tuesday's and have a girlie sauna night out on Thursdays. I also have some very nice neighbours who help with the children's taxiing to and from activities."
A great help is her once-a-week cleaner. "Best thing I ever did," she said.
On Saturdays she goes to the gym, and finds time too to attend a slimming club.
On top of having her third child last year she also passed a degree.
"Because of the patients I see it does put things into perspective and I live for today.
"I never have any money. Spend it now and think later," she grins.
I agree, supermum.