Lorraine describes her cancer journey as an emotional tsunami, which began in November 2020 with an initial misdiagnosis of bruising. Following a biopsy, it turned out to be Angiosarcoma.
“When you find out you actually have cancer it knocks you off your feet. It was so unexpected and your mind is a whirl of emotions. Everything happens so quickly, you really don’t have time to think. All of a sudden your normal daily routine is transformed into an endless round of hospital appointments, tests and operations, all coming at you fast and furious.
“You are trying to process what’s happening, but it’s too difficult. I felt lost, alone, confused and frightened, but I had to be strong for the sake of those around me.
The following month, Lorraine had two operations (mastectomy), before being discharged just after Christmas.
Following a clear margin diagnosis, Lorraine was told that neither chemotherapy nor radiotherapy were required and breathed a sigh of relief.
“After the initial chaos in your mind subsides, you have time to process what’s just happened. Suddenly it’s all very scary. So once again you are overwhelmed and your mind is in turmoil. The surgeons are great at their job, but now it’s your emotional wounds that need healing.
“Having someone I could talk to was essential. COVID isolated me from the support of family and friends and made my family feel excluded from my turbulent journey. No-one (not even my husband) was allowed to attend consultant visits with me or to visit me in hospital.
Lorraine found Cancer Support UK on Facebook and signed herself up. She found the weekly group sessions really benefited her wellbeing and is thankful for the support she received on her recovery journey.
“Although we were all diagnosed with cancer at different times and had different treatments, everyone in the group shared similar experiences. This made me appreciate I wasn’t on my own.
“The bottom line was that we all felt the same way. We could discuss the fear at the back of all of our minds: “what if it comes back?”. Being able to talk about this in a safe space with each other really helped. Our facilitator was also great, giving us supporting mechanisms.
“After our coaching sessions finished, three of us decided to keep in touch. We still have regular calls to keep up to date with what’s happening in our lives – both medically and personally.
“Having someone to listen and provide guidance was essential in helping me come to terms with everything. I thank Cancer UK for being there for me through this journey. You have made a huge difference.
“Sometimes, when I look at my scars following my radical surgery, it doesn’t make me feel great, but my sons are quick to tell me to be “proud of your scars mum, they are survivors’ scars” How right they are.
“But, it’s always there at the back of your mind – what if the cancer comes back? However, I certainly haven’t let my cancer diagnosis hold me back.
“Currently, my three monthly scans/x-rays show no evidence of disease and I pray that it stays that way. I started working part time for the Royal Voluntary Service in February 2021 and enjoy contributing to community support. My husband Archie and I look after Findlay, our 18th month old grandson, every week. He keeps me on my toes. So my life is filled with things that make me happy. Long may that continue.”
Cancer Support UK’s Cancer Coach support groups are for people who have finished their cancer treatment and need someone to speak to about their experience. The emphasis is very much on providing practical and emotional support in a safe space and connecting with others who have been through cancer. We provide techniques that people can take away and try for themselves. The groups are split into weekly sessions held over six weeks and are carried out free of charge by video call or telephone. Each group is facilitated by a Cancer Coach, who introduces the group, offers support and structures the conversation.
Cancer Coach is for anyone over the age of 18 who has completed treatment for cancer, regardless of whether they finished treatment a few months ago or a few years ago. You can apply to join online or, if you have any questions, please email email@example.com or call: 020 3983 7616.