“The first session was extremely emotional for all of us. I don’t think you realise how much you keep pent up inside.” – Linda C’s story

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Linda, 64, was diagnosed with skin cancer in the form of three, simultaneous malignant melanomas in 1986. She has a family history of this happening, but was nonetheless devastated that this had happened.

Linda had surgery, which fortunately meant that she needed no further treatment.

“However, there was no extra support – or I couldn’t find any. My family were my support mechanism. They kept me going and gave me something to focus on.”

Linda was then diagnosed with colon cancer just before Christmas in 2018 after feeling tired and finding it difficult to keep going at work. Tests revealed that she was extremely anaemic and that she had colon cancer. Then, just after Christmas, she was told she had another type of cancer.

“I had my colon cancer operation, but fortunately because the cancer was caught at an early stage, I was told I didn’t require any further treatment. However, I did need surgery to have lymph nodes removed from under my arm. Following the operation, I was offered immunotherapy, which I decided was the best route forward.”

After her treatment was over, Linda discovered Cancer Support UK’s Cancer Coach peer support groups on Facebook.

“I thought to myself, have I actually talked to anybody about my whole journey? Have I really given myself a chance to talk about it without boring people to death with it all? But, it wasn’t about other people. It was about me and what I needed. So I joined the group and met some great like-minded people, who supported each other.

“The first session was extremely emotional for all of us. I don’t think you realise how much you keep pent up inside, and how much you need to talk through your experience and your journey.

Linda's certificateAs someone who has experienced cancer diagnosis, treatment and support over a longer period, Linda feels that the support mechanisms have improved greatly:

“If you have an opportunity to join Cancer Coach, my message is do it. Because afterwards you will feel that a load has been taken off your shoulders.”

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. To find out more about Cancer Coach visit: www.cancersupportuk.org/cancercoach or email cancercoach@cancersupportuk.org. Or call: 020 3983 7616.