Dave was persuaded to come to Penny Brohn UK by his wife after he was diagnosed with bile duct cancer. His fears evaporated, and he re-gained a sense of control and hope in his life.
“After I’d soaked up the warmth and understanding of the other clients and staff, I came away feeling very positive, like I’d taken the first steps to regaining some kind of control over my life again, and that some hope had returned.”
I was diagnosed with Bile Duct cancer in June 2010 and had a Pancreaticoduodenectomy (Whipple Procedure) to remove the tumour in July that year.
I have a partner and three young children (two of whom were only one and a half at the time) and it turned all our lives upside down. I didn’t have any follow up Chemotherapy, and of course there was no need for Radiotherapy. So strangely life went back to normal fairly quickly – because it just had to – I didn’t have time for cancer.
After three years, I was beginning to be viewed as one of the lucky ones, but then in December 2013 a second (small, but inoperable) tumour was discovered. During 2014 intensive Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy reduced the size of this second tumour by a third, and it’s now considered to be in a ‘stable’ state. And so life carries on.
If I’m honest, I initially didn’t think Penny Brohn was for me, but my wife Sylvi had used their services four years before (after her older brother had died of a brain tumour), and so she actively encouraged me to go. Just turning up at the Penny Brohn National Centre in Pill that first time was a real challenge for me. It took a lot of persuading – and I had to overcome some doubts, preconceptions, and fears about the place. Was it really for me? What will happen there? Who will be there?
But those fears quickly evaporated once in the beautiful building – and after I’d soaked up the warmth and understanding of the other clients and staff. And I came away after that first visit feeling very positive, like I’d taken the first steps to regaining some kind of control over my life again, and that some hope had returned.
This positive feeling returns every time I visit. And this is for me, the strongest reason for attending (and re-attending) any of the Penny Brohn UK workshops and courses. Regularly going to the Centre literally makes me ‘feel good’. It lifts my spirits, empowers me, and sends me home feeling more positive and more hopeful. Yes – the prospect of sharing my own story was at first a bit scary. But having done it once, the dam just breaks, and a great weight was lifted from my shoulders. And nothing beats meeting, sharing and listening to the individual stories of the other clients – people who ‘know’ – people who ‘get it’ – people who ‘just understand’, what you and your family are going through, and all the implications.
Like many others I’ve spoken to, I’ve found receiving a cancer diagnosis strangely empowering. It forced me to stop and reassess every part of my life, and decide what was important and what was not. And Penny Brohn UK has added to that empowerment, by giving me a wonderful set of ‘tools’. And by offering me an alternative ‘whole body’ approach to treatment, and to life with cancer, Penny Brohn UK has given me hope.