The next retreat was the Approach course which helps to deepen and personalise the information from the Living Well course. I spent time learning their self-help techniques and discovering how they could work for me. In one of the sessions I talked about how I couldn’t seem to move on and the leader suggested I do some counselling. Next thing I knew I had been signed up for six sessions of over the phone counselling (they offer this service for people who don’t live near the centre). I was assigned a wonderful counsellor who continued the philosophies of the centre. I also found talking over the phone very liberating. Not seeing the person and their reaction to what I was saying meant I felt really free to say anything. She also continually asked me to describe my body reactions to whatever emotion I was feeling (this was to help her) but I also found it helpful for me to learn how my body reacted to an emotion and then how to deal with that reaction. On the Approach course I also had two one-to-one session with a Doctor and with a Nutritional Therapist, providing the opportunity to ask questions related to my personal situation. If I had wanted I could have had six sessions over the phone with a nutritionist.
In October 2017, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in the other breast. Seventeen months after the first operation I was back on the cancer nightmare treadmill. This time it was more serious and at one stage the surgeon said I might be dead by Christmas 2018. Scary stuff – really did my head in. When I was given the diagnosis, I was still doing counselling with Penny Brohn. Clare (my counsellor) immediately said she would see if I could receive more sessions. In the end I had about three months of counselling. Without it I think I would be certifiable mad by now. She kept giving me coping strategies for each situation that arose. I find these strategies great now for just coping with every-day situations and as I am coming up to the one-year anniversary of my second all clear I continue to use them in all aspects of my life.
I also went back and did more retreats whilst going through the second cancer. The two I chose to do were Nurturing Resources which explored how nature, journaling, creativity and meditation can nurture your personal resources and Stillness and Relaxation to help discover your own paths to peace and stillness. Both retreats included a one on one session of reflexology or healing. I tried both and after each session slept really well (one of the big problems of going through all this is I stopped sleeping – I now know what 3am really looks like and how engrossing Facebook can be at that hour!) There were other retreats I could have done – nutrition, creative etc. And other resources I could have utilised. But with the counselling over I realised at the last retreat I was okay. I no longer felt like I was going crazy and I was ready to move on with my life. A year on I am sane (well as sane as I can be), strong both mentally and physically and most importantly happy. I totally credit Penny Brohn with saving my sanity and teaching me how to look after myself so I could cope.
Veronica’s story was first published in Sibrydion Cymuned.