One of the biggest things for me, about coming to Penny Brohn, is seeing the doctors. Seeing an Integrative doctor is revolutionary for me. Having a medical sounding board is perfect to discuss confusing things. Importantly, it’s someone who understands that you’re a whole person and that you have preferences, and it’s outside a hospital environment. It takes so much pressure off. There is so much stress involved in having cancer and it can make you feel very anxious at times. It makes a huge difference knowing that there’s somebody that you can trust, who can talk you through complicated medical decisions. When you have cancer, there’s a lot of decisions to make, but it can feel quite lonely trying to make those, and quite scary, knowing whether they are sensible. Talking to a Penny Brohn doctor gives me another perspective, which makes me feel much more secure – that I’m not on my own.
I have found many things that can support me when I’m stressed. I’ve built up my resilience and that’s been hugely tested. I was re-diagnosed and then evicted, so it’s been really, really difficult. But I find the approaches I’ve learnt are hardwired in and I do them when times are tough. They’re part of my routine.
My psychologist at the hospital has asked ‘how on Earth do you cope?’ I didn’t answer him, but I thought afterwards that I’m meditating every morning, in a couple of different ways, then I eat healthy food and make sure I exercise every day. I also see friends. All these things are helpful and they’re daily. Also, I can come to Penny Brohn for help whenever I need it.
It’s been great to know that exercising is good for me. I think there’s a little apprehension with exercising, that it might make things worse, but Penny Brohn showed that there’s so much evidence that it’s good for you. I go for a walk every day. I try to get into the countryside and always come back feeling better, calmer and with renewed energy. I also cycle and dance which I really enjoy.
A friend was diagnosed with cancer about six months after I was and I told her about Penny Brohn. She signed up to a course and I remember her saying ‘oh, I won’t have to bond with others will I?’ I think some people are quite nervous about meeting others with cancer. Perhaps, they’re afraid that it might be negative or upsetting. I said ‘no, it’s fine, they don’t push anyone to bond, you can take or leave however much you want’. Afterwards, she said it was ‘great’. I asked how it was with other people and she said ‘that was the best bit’. She was so delighted that she set up a Facebook group to stay in touch with them.
It’s been great discovering Penny Brohn. I feel more connected and very supported. I also feel I’ve got an opportunity to support other people and that’s really important for me as well.