I was diagnosed with breast cancer on 1 August 2016, aged 48. I wasn’t yet old enough for mammograms and had found the lump as I regularly checked my breasts. Breast cancer wasn’t in the family, I was exercising regularly and I had a healthy diet (I even had a cookery book ‘Foods to Prevent Cancer’). So I was angry and scared. How would I tell my husband and daughter?
Nothing and no one can prepare you for that moment when you’re sitting in the consultant’s room and you are told you have got cancer. It’s gone from being a normal day to suddenly having to deal with the biggest trauma in your life.
‘At this stage we think it’s non invasive’ (It wasn’t)
‘We’re hopeful you’ll make a full recovery’ (I am recovering)
Could they really be talking about me? How had this happened? And why?
The hospital was fantastic; I couldn’t have asked for better care. I could cope with the operations, the injections, the pain – together with the loss of dignity as everyone wanted to inspect a part of me that usually is kept covered. What I struggled with was what was going on in my head.
The nightmares started and were relentless. I spoke to my MacMillan nurse for advice and she suggested I contact Beechwood. I was given an appointment with Hazel, one of their therapists, and after a thorough discussion and many tissues, she suggested hypnotherapy. I will admit I was sceptical as I’d never tried it before but realised that any doubts or negativity were based on other people’s thoughts and opinions, so I decided to keep an open mind
Just to be able to speak freely, express all my concerns, feelings and fears, without feeling I was burdening a loved one was huge. The relief was instant. Friendships are made here. We are all in the same boat and we all ‘get’ what we’re going through. Many friends and family wrongly assume the way to deal with you is to forget it happened and never speak of it again, whereas in reality what many of us need is to keep talking and work through it to find our new ‘normal’ that we can gradually get to.
I look forward to that day of the week at Beechwood. It is a pure, self indulgent, blissful day of relaxation, something most of us never experience as we feel guilty that there’s always something else that needs doing. Any such feelings of guilt are left at the door of Beechwood; they reinforce the entitlement to, and importance of, focusing on ourselves. All the staff are so friendly and welcoming and Beechwood itself is homely and relaxing.