Good food, great company and a big dollop of self-care

This year’s Christmas Appeal features the inspiring story of Laura who at the age of 34 was diagnosed with blood cancer.  Feeling lost and desperately alone she turned to Penny Brohn UK for help and support.

Find out how more than medicine was crucial in helping Laura to get through cancer.

Two years ago, my life was turned upside down when I was diagnosed with a type of blood cancer. As a PE teacher and adrenalin junkie, my diagnosis came as a total shock. I felt desperately lonely and isolated and I really didn’t know how I was going to get through it.

Looking back, along with our incredible NHS, I realise it was the loving care of my family and partner that kept me going during treatment: that and the extraordinary support I had from Penny Brohn UK.

That’s the reason I’m sharing my story this Christmas; to ask if you might spare a thought for all those people with cancer who would feel lost and alone without Penny Brohn’s support. They also deserve a chance to live well with cancer – and your donation today could help provide it. I hope you’ll be able to help.

I was used to being full of energy so when I couldn’t climb the stairs without being out of breath and lost interest in food, I knew there was something wrong. After multiple visits to the doctor, I was admitted to hospital with pneumonia and a collapsed lung.  After 5 days I wanted to go home.

Instead, the doctors came and told me “It’s cancer Laura”.  A scan had revealed I had tumours in my neck, stomach, pelvis, lung, aorta and spleen. It was everywhere.

She explained I had stage 3 lymphoma (really advanced), the chemo would start in just five days and that I may never have children.

I had so many questions running around in my head.  I wanted to help myself – I wanted to live.

In hospital, when I sought out information on diet and exercise, I was either considered not ill enough or I felt like I was imposing as the doctors and nurses were all so busy dealing with the medical side of things.

“I had so many questions running around in my head.  I wanted to help myself – I wanted to live.”

Fortunately, a good friend of mine, whose Dad had recently died of cancer, gave me a copy of the Penny Brohn UK book called Nourish.  I hadn’t heard of Penny Brohn UK but when I Googled it, I thought it looked fantastic.

Walking into Penny Brohn UK, I immediately felt a sense of relief; this was the whole person approach I was looking for.

When I went to the Treatment Support Clinic I was blown away – this was everything I’d hoped for in hospital but hadn’t received.  I remember thinking  YES!  Nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, meditation; why is no one else talking about this?

I’ve been back to Penny Brohn many times, for meditation and for acupuncture before my chemotherapy sessions. I don’t know how I would have coped without it.

I had a phenomenal support system when I was going through cancer, yet I still felt lonely and isolated.  What it must be like if you don’t have that help is beyond me. And that’s why Penny Brohn is so essential.

To get back to health, which is all anyone wants, isn’t just a job for your body.  It takes your mind, your spirit and your emotions too.  And the real experts in bringing all that together and offering it free of charge is Penny Brohn.

As many of one in two of us will have cancer at some point in our lives and we need to support each other through it. That’s why I urge you, if you can help just one charity this Christmas, please make it Penny Brohn UK.

You can make a donation right here, right now.

With your help and mine, Penny Brohn can continue to be a beacon of hope and expertise for people with cancer.

Today, thanks to them, I’m living proof that you can live well with cancer.

With thanks and best wishes


PS. Follow this link to find a copy of Penny Bohn UK’s self-care permission slip. You don’t need to have a cancer diagnosis to benefit from taking time for yourself. I’ve added a few examples of what helped me during treatment – and still help me now. Why not give it a go?