Lynne had her usual mammogram in 2021 and was relieved when the result was normal. But just three months later she found a lump in her breast. As her family has a history of breast cancer she contacted the breast clinic and was quickly diagnosed with grade 1 breast cancer. “The news did not really hit me until I shared the results with close family and friends.”
Things moved quickly and the next two months were a surreal round of appointments, scans, blood tests, more appointments, lumpectomy surgery, more appointments (some face-to-face, some by telephone), radiotherapy and the commencement of oral hormone blockers for the next five years to avert reoccurrence. The experience was heightened due to COVID restrictions.
“I had and still have a positive outlook on my cancer, but I can’t say that I didn’t have down days. The treatment really took its toll on me. It all happened so quickly that I didn’t have time to process the impact this diagnosis had on me.
“I also felt that there was an expectation from family, friends and colleagues that, once active treatment had ceased, I would step back into normal life. I think this was heightened due having a cancer diagnosis and treatment during a global pandemic. I missed the support and companionship of other people who would usually be a very active part of my life.
“The full impact of my diagnosis hit me when I started the process of a very phased return to work. I realised that expectations to return to “normal” were in fact completely unrealistic. I may have looked like I was ok, but actually I wasn’t.
“I found a certain lack of empathy from people – some just didn’t know what to say – and there was an expectation that now you’ve had the treatment you must be alright.
“I learnt about Cancer Coach from the hospital where I was receiving treatment. I’d received some counselling during treatment, which helped with some of the emotions I was feeling. But I knew I needed something more to help me process my cancer experience. I felt that talking to others who had been through similar experiences would be very therapeutic.
“The sessions were very relaxed. The Cancer Coach facilitator was so welcoming and an amazing listener – very empathetic to everyone in the group, particularly during emotional conversations.
“We discussed different specific topics each week, which were relatable to my cancer experience and helped me to understand my inner emotional turmoil. I also learnt different strategies to help me deal with my emotions and thoughts.
“But there was flexibility too in the format, as the coach allowed us freedom to move off topic and share our own experiences.
“Our small group of three jelled really well and we all supported each other. We discussed our cancer journeys and what was working or not working well for us physically and emotionally.
“We used the thought processes and strategies from the sessions to make sense of what we had been through and how try and move forward.
“I enjoyed all the sessions. The Cancer Coach themes and strategies reinforced the personal counselling I previously received and have helped with my healing process. By the end of the course I felt empowered and I noticed a positive change, too, in my fellow group members. So a problem shared really does work.
“I would personally recommend this course to anyone who has to go through this journey – I have benefitted so much from Cancer Coach.”
Cancer Coach support groups are completely confidential and are available free to anyone over the age of 18 who has completed their physical cancer treatment. The groups provide practical and emotional support in a safe space to those who are experiencing low mood, anxiety and worry, and who don’t know how to move forward with their lives. The course takes participants through weekly facilitated group sessions, run over the telephone or online video. The sessions cover a series of coping strategies, techniques and exercises, which can help individuals on their recovery journey.
If you’ve just completed cancer treatment and are wondering how to cope, then please apply to join the course. Simply complete the application form online. If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 020 3983 7616.