Dear Editor, Ian Paterson has helped to save countless lives (Solihull breast cancer patient speaks out against surgeon after disease returned, Post, February 19). Not just of the women he has operated on and saved, but of their husbands and their families. They all live with breast cancer.
Mr Paterson has dedicated his career to helping women fight and beat breast cancer. Many of the complainants levelling criticism against him would have died without his interjection.
In saving them, Mr Paterson has performed his role. What has not been reported so far, is that he has exceeded his role as surgeon. He has also helped patients beat the demons that breast cancer leaves. Those demons include lack of confidence, self respect and dignity. Mr Paterson has done this by getting to know his patients as people – understanding their lives and how the disease affects them.
The ability to enjoy normality would certainly not be available without his surgical skill, clinical judgment and basic human empathy.
Mr Paterson helped to initially save and then prolong my father’s life. My father was, with his help, diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour in February 2008. Mr Paterson broke the most horrific news my family had ever heard. He did it with sensitivity and extraordinary kindness. Mr Paterson helped to ensure that my father was referred to the right people. I am certain that without his help, my father would have died very much sooner than he did.
I was 36 weeks pregnant when my father was diagnosed with cancer. Without Mr Paterson (and other equally dedicated medics), I am quite sure that my father would not have seen my daughter Ella reach her second birthday. He would not have known that I was carrying his grandson when he finally lost his fight in March 2010. I attended the Breast Friends Ball on March 19. I saw Mr Paterson, and went to speak to him to offer my support. The first question he asked me was how me, and my mum were coping – Mr Paterson knew that it was the first anniversary of my father’s death.
He asked this, despite the enormous personal strain that has been put on him as a result of recent publicity. That sums Ian up. A man first. A surgeon second.
I must make one thing clear. I support investigation where there is suspicion. I support protection of patients. I support dismissal of clinicians who are not acting in the best interests of their patients. I do not support persecution. The bottom line is that Ian Paterson has prevented the death of countless people. He has made many many lives better.