Read about our pioneering study with South Tees NHS Foundation Trust here.

Participant Spotlight: Vanessa

Surgery Hero
October 9, 2023

Vanessa is 32 years old and joined the Surgery Hero programme while awaiting surgery for the removal of two ovarian cysts. The last few years have been challenging for Vanessa due to symptoms caused by endometriosis, but she now feels her health is better than it has been in years. In this interview, she tells us how speaking with her coach helped her learn to prioritise her own wellbeing and recovery.

Can you tell us a bit about your surgical journey?

A few years ago I started to feel there was something not right, health-wise. And I kept going back and forth to GP but was being told there was nothing to worry about.

I actually ended up going privately initially to get a diagnosis. Once they had figured out what was wrong I was then told to go back to GP to be referred back into the NHS for surgery. And at that point they really started going into detail.

Unfortunately, then the pandemic happened and things were delayed and delayed, and my symptoms got worse and worse. At the time it was hard, but I understood the situation was very challenging for everyone. It’s just one of those things but I really appreciate the care I’ve been given since.

It’s been a journey but I’m in better health now.

Why did you choose to join the Surgery Hero prehabilitation programme?

It was actually a recommendation from my surgeon initially. To be honest, I didn’t know anything like this existed and I wasn’t really sure what I was signing up for at first. But it’s just been amazing support.

Since completing the programme, how has your approach to managing your own health changed?

I’m definitely more aware of how I’m feeling within myself. I’ve always tried to eat well and look after myself, but I think I’m more in tune with my body now.

When I had the first operation, everything seemed fine but a few weeks later I was unwell again. This time round with my recovery I gave myself more time to recover. Mentally and physically having surgery takes a lot out of you, so you need to learn to prioritise yourself and allow yourself that space to recover.

What did you like most about the programme?

I really enjoyed my talks with my coach, Abi. She was very easy to talk to and it was so comforting to talk to someone who knew what I was going through. 

Sometimes we wouldn’t even talk about the surgery. But she offered a safe space to share my experience without having to burden my family or make them feel worried. It was amazing for me to have that.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about joining the Surgery Hero programme?

Be brave. Go for it. And just be open to the experience. The programme can help in ways that you can’t even imagine.

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