Vicky became unwell in April 2018, she noticed that she was constantly tired and one day she went swimming and could hardly lift her legs up to get out of the pool. Her tummy started to swell up, so she contacted the doctors and was diagnosed with a rare Fallopian cancer.
“The news that I had a rare Fallopian cancer was a big shock, it was my friends 60th birthday and we were having lunch after. We did go for lunch – quite surreal really, tears flowed. The shock didn’t really hit me until a bit later. I have cancer, that day my life changed. I had to give up my job, I lost my hair through chemo. To be fair I reacted quite well to chemo and plodded through it. For someone who hates blood tests and needles I thought I was pretty damn brave. I had fab support from family and friends – in fact it seemed that I had the whole of Brixham behind me.”
Six months later, results showed no disease, which was positive, but Vicky felt lost. She tried counselling provided by her hospital, but did not get on with it well.
“I had hardly any hair, a big moon face from steroids and no more regular hospital visits – only check-ups every three months. People expect you to be fine once treatment is over. It’s as if life goes back to normal. But life doesn’t go back to normal. You still have no hair, no eyebrows, no eyelashes, no energy, no strength and chemo brain hits hard.”
Vickie ended up with cancer again in 2020 and after nine sessions of chemo she was doing better. But it was now lockdown and she didn’t want the same sort of counselling she had received before.
“I looked on the web and found Cancer Coach, which provided online sessions and thought this is perfect for me. We are all Zoom experts by now. It was an easy application process and I had a chat with someone from the Cancer Coach team telling me all about the course and I knew it was suitable and would be useful for me.”
Cancer Coach support groups are run by Cancer Support UK for people who have finished their cancer treatment and who 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 a trained Cancer Coach who leads the group, offers support and structures the conversation.
“It was fascinating hearing the group’s worries and fears – they were like me. Our lives had changed. We talked through great ways of coping and I learnt a lot. It was also lovely learning brief parts about my new friends’ lives. I am friends with one of the ladies on Facebook now and it is super seeing her getting on so well with her life and being happy.
“Cancer coach was brilliant, all online, all confidential and I have recommended the course to other friends finishing treatment. That weekly session was so helpful, talking to strangers who became new friends, who knew exactly what I was going through, was brilliant. We cried and laughed and came out the other side with good coping skills and tools to help us deal with any issues that may arise. I would happily recommend the course to fellow cancer warriors.”
Cancer Coach is a completely free programme, which is available to 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. Please get in touch if you or someone you know has finished treatment and have anxieties or concerns.