“Cancer Coach allowed me to grieve for my previous self.” Melanie’s story

Melanie found the Cancer Coach peer support group extremely beneficial

Thanks to Cancer Coach, Melanie discovered she was not alone in the emotions she was experiencing

Melanie Ward was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in March 2018 and began chemotherapy treatment the next day.

In addition to receiving six cycles of chemo, Melanie underwent a left breast mastectomy and three weeks of radiotherapy.  She was left with no left breast, a size G right breast and had to wear a heavy prosthetic, while she waited for reconstructive surgery.

Melanie in hospital during treatment

Cancer Coach helped Melanie look at how she put pressure on herself to be “normal” again after treatment

“I didn’t find the actual treatment too bad, but because of COVID, my reconstruction surgery was delayed and wasn’t finally completed until June 2021.  By that time I was fed up with the prosthetic and desperate to get out from under the cloud of cancer and continue my life.  The reconstruction went badly wrong and even now I am suffering the effects.

“As a result, I had counselling with Macmillan and the local cancer wellness centre. Both their support helped me in different ways, but it wasn’t until I took part in Cancer Support UK’s Cancer Coach programme, that I actually started thinking about who I was before the cancer and who I am now.

Melanie before her cancer diagnosis

Melanie before her cancer diagnosis

“Cancer Coach allowed me to grieve for the person I was previously and to contemplate the positive changes, which have occurred because of the cancer, as well as my struggles through the process.

“The programme also prompted me to think about expectations of myself after treatment. “The support I received through Cancer Coach made me realise how much pressure I was putting on myself to be “normal” again.” The programme gave me techniques to use when feeling down or when I was worrying unnecessarily.

“I found the Worry Tree exercise very useful and I have a picture of it on my fridge.  I also learned to factor in time to worry, which was a game changer. This really helped me not to constantly worry about everything and just to set aside a time every week to spend worrying.

“The coaching was great, as it meant that I had conversations with other people going through cancer, who shared similar thoughts and feelings to mine. It made me realise that I was not alone in the emotions I was experiencing.”

Cancer Support UK’s Cancer Coach programme is available to anyone previously diagnosed with a primary cancer and who has now completed their physical cancer treatment. The course takes participants through a series of weekly facilitated group sessions, run for a six-week period over the telephone or online video. Participants benefit from the peer support of the sessions, as well as learning tools and techniques for improving emotional wellbeing, which can help them on their recovery journey. The course is free, completely confidential and accessible from the comfort and privacy of home.

If you’ve completed cancer treatment, but are experiencing low mood, anxiety, worry, and don’t know how to move forward in your recovery, then please apply to join the course. Simply complete the application form online. If you have any questions, email cancercoach@cancersupportuk.org or call: 020 3983 7616.