Sharon, 49, was diagnosed with stage 2 bowel cancer in early 2019. Following surgery and chemotherapy she was discharged from hospital.
Initially, Sharon expected her life to feel the same as it did before her diagnosis, but instead she found it difficult to re-adjust.
“At first being discharged from hospital felt like a positive experience, but as the support you had in hospital disappears, you’re left with feelings that you aren’t sure whether they’re genuine or not.”
People who have had cancer treatment can start to feel lost without the advice and guidance of their doctors, nurses and hospital teams who have supported them. Hospital treatment includes lots of routines, testing and reassurance which can feel like it’s missing when you’re discharged.
“At first, I felt like I could start getting on with my life. In the hospital I spent a lot of time being monitored and checked. You don’t feel like you have to worry as much because you feel like you have a team who are supporting you. I spent a bit of time visiting my GP after I was discharged to get things out and luckily they were very supportive.”
Sharon also needed to self-isolate during the UK’s lockdown, following her return to work in November 2019. This was difficult as she had felt that she had just started to return back to her ‘normal’ life, and it brought back anxiety and negative feelings around her diagnosis and life after treatment. News stories about treatment delays, along with her own annual scan being postponed, didn’t help these feelings.
She had explored counselling sessions, but found them difficult to pin down because of her working hours or long waiting lists, which added to the feelings of anxiousness and isolation. She was worried about her cancer returning, as well as her physical and mental health.
It can be hard for people who have experienced cancer to discuss worries with family and friends, who may also share the same worries or thoughts and not know how to help.
For Sharon, Cancer Support UK’s Cancer Coach support groups came at a time when she needed to be able to discuss her anxieties in a supportive, understanding environment.
“I would really recommend the Cancer Coach support group sessions. We all had the same shared feelings, concerns, and anxieties based around cancer. It was so nice to open up about your feelings and have people who could nod in recognition and say “Yeah, I understand completely how you feel.” I feel like I’ve met friends for life through Cancer Coach support group sessions and I still have that support that I was lacking before I discovered this charity.”
Cancer Coach support groups are run by Cancer Support UK for people who have finished their cancer treatment and need someone to speak to. The groups are split into weekly sessions over six weeks and are carried out free of charge by telephone or over a video call. Each group is facilitated by volunteer coaches who work with Cancer Support UK to introduce the group, offer support and structure the conversation.