“Hello, my name is Charlene and I’m a Cancer Coach facilitator with Cancer Support UK.
“I was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma (a rare form of bone cancer) in 2011, and underwent a gruelling operation, a full knee replacement, meaning I had to learn to walk again. As you can imagine, the journey to recovery was long and incredibly hard, both physically and emotionally.
“It was because I understood the importance of support after my discharge that I became a Cancer Coach. Today I help run groups for people who have reached the end of their cancer treatment.
“I wanted to talk to you about one of the ways in which I support people on my groups. In addition to talking through their experience of cancer and treatment, we also explore techniques to help them move forward in their recovery.
“One of these is a very simple way of coping with anxiety, which many patients understandably experience, having had their worlds turned upside down.
“This technique isn’t complicated, and in fact I’d encourage you to try out our short guided breathing techniques recording. It’s a taste of what you or someone you know might experience on a Cancer Coach course.”When I run this session, I ask participants to find themselves a quiet spot in their home, somewhere they feel safe, and to picture a beautiful place, like a beach on a perfect tropical island. Then I ask them to imagine what that place smells and feels like – the texture of the sand under their feet, the warm breeze coming off the sea, the cool water against their skin when they swim. I ask them to breathe in and out, in and out, like the tide lapping the shore.
“If you haven’t tried this technique before, you’d be amazed at how calming it is. It’s also been shown to relieve pain and have many other health benefits. And for people doing it in the company of others who’ve been on a similar cancer journey, it feels safe and comforting.
“People experience such improvements on these courses – the relief of sharing with others who understand, and the building of resilience for the path ahead.”