Samantha was first diagnosed with stage two breast cancer in February 2020. She started a course of chemotherapy in March, during the first week of lockdown, followed by surgery and then radiotherapy, which continued right through to October.
The cancer diagnosis came as quite a shock to Samantha: “It was completely unexpected. I was devastated and very scared.
When treatment was complete, Samantha, who was shielding with her partner throughout that time, found coping with recovery much harder than she anticipated.
“I lived in constant fear of the cancer returning. I also found going back to work a real mental challenge, even though I was working from home.
“I honestly think that absolutely no one – even those closest to you – understand at all what you are going through. The only people I could really talk to – who actually ‘got it’ – were the people who had experienced cancer themselves.
“I was very lonely and anxious, especially dealing with all the stress of the pandemic at the same time. Even now, I think I am still trying to adapt.”
Samantha decided to join a Cancer Coach Support Group.
“I went on the Cancer Coach course because, apart from my partner, I didn’t really talk to anyone about what had happened. All social meetings were virtual anyway and we didn’t really go out at all because of shielding.
“Our facilitator on the course was fantastic, carefully supporting our conversations and providing practical tools to help us move forward.
“Being able to talk with other people who had had similar experiences to me was invaluable. In addition, the strategies and techniques for dealing with negative feelings really helped me process everything I had gone through.
“I absolutely loved the group and got a lot out of it. I have stayed in contact with two ladies who were on the course with me. We now have a WhatsApp group to keep in touch regularly, which really helps.
Samantha has also shared her recent good news:
“I have had my second operation, which went well and I am now fully recovered with two clear mammograms since my treatment.”
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. To participate in a Cancer Coach Support group, sign up here.
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 conversations.
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 Cancer Coach online or, if you have any questions, please email email@example.com or call: 020 3983 7616.