Man campaigns after partner has mastectomy cancelled last-minute

A woman who had her life-saving cancer operation postponed just four days before it was due has now received her surgery – thanks to tireless efforts from her partner.

In September, Sarah Harries was told her mastectomy had been cancelled last-minute – due to staff shortages.

However, following quick-thinking from her determined partner, Steve Dickson, the 42-year-old’s surgery was rearranged for a few days later.

Sarah’s journey began earlier this year, when she went to the doctor for pain in her breast. 

The hotel duty manager, from Pembrokeshire, was later diagnosed with grade-two breast cancer and opted for a mastectomy to remove her left breast.

But just days before it was due to take place (on September 28), Sarah was told the operation had been postponed, because staff had been redeployed to help in intensive care with Covid patients.

‘Beyond hell is the best way to describe the situation,’ Steve tells Jam Press.

‘Sarah has Herceptin-positive breast cancer, the most serious you can get. She was due to have reconstruction at the same time and we had already waited three weeks for the plastic surgeon and surgeon to be available on the same day.

‘To be told now there was no operation was just devastating. To be blunt, we knew the delay could kill Sarah if the cancer spread to her lymph nodes and beyond. The thought was unbearable.

‘It was so, so stressful, which in itself was not healthy for Sarah. She needed to be in a calm state so the cancer didn’t have an opportunity to thrive.’

With no rescheduled date given, Sarah and Steve decided to act fast.

After contacting MPs and hospital boards and not getting very far, Steve decided to try and fundraise the £7,000 needed for a private mastectomy at Cardiff’s Nuffield Hospital.

Within 24 hours, the pair had hit their target.

Sarah says: ‘My partner, my mother, and even my surgeon fought immensely, day after day, for my operation to be rescheduled immediately. With no dates or guarantees from the NHS management, my partner did the GoFundMe as time was not on our side.

‘I’m embarrassed that we were in a position where we had to even ask for help. I’ve always been a private person and this has been very difficult for me.

‘You will do anything it takes to fight for your life and I feared that the cancer would spread, especially with it being the more aggressive type. I felt it had already been there long enough as it was.’

However, soon after this happened the NHS gave Sarah a new slot for her operation. 

She was admitted on October 2 and the procedure was a success.

Steve and Sarah are now offering to return the donations to anyone who requests it – but so far only one person has asked.

They are also hoping to use the raised funds for private surgery to remove Sarah’s other breast to reduce future risk – as the NHS only offered a single mastectomy.

Then, any money remaining will be donated to charity.

Sarah adds: ‘The response from the GoFundMe was massive and I felt so overwhelmed and so grateful to people for giving me that lifeline. There are true angels out there amongst us and I am eternally grateful to them.

‘This has all been so traumatic and I can’t believe other cancer patients are having to go through the same. My heart goes out to them all.’

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