I felt like I was on a conveyor belt. I literally went from diagnosis, through surgery, then from one appointment to the next for months. Surgery left me with severe pain and lymphoedema in my arm; I ended up having six months of physiotherapy, which didn’t really help. For a whole year, my life seemed to revolve around hospital and doctor’s appointments. Then, I had my first annual check-up. Thankfully it was all clear but suddenly I felt like I’d been pushed off the conveyor belt.
I didn’t have to be seen again for six months and I was expected to just go away and carry on. Everything had taken its toll on me – emotionally and physically. That’s when it hit me. I needed further support, so I went to a wellbeing event in Coventry, where I spotted the Penny Brohn UK stand. Penny Brohn was running its first-ever Living Well course in Coventry, where I live, so signed up there and then.
It was so worthwhile going on because I finally got the support I was looking for. Cancer impacted my life in so many ways. Surgery left me in considerable, constant pain and I had problems using my arm, so I ended up giving up my job as a primary school teaching assistant. This had a huge effect on my confidence and self-worth. I really didn’t know how to get on with my life.
A whole person
During the Living Well course I learnt about things like the importance of food and nourishment to heal my body, the benefit of exercise, importance of relaxation and other things to help my general wellbeing. I met other people with different cancers and it was good to be able to talk to them and share experiences, thoughts and feelings about what we were going through. For the first time since being diagnosed, I felt I was being treated as a whole person.
I was keen to visit the charity’s National Centre. I was concerned about travelling over 100 miles, but decided it was worth it.