Penny Brohn UK

Help change life with cancer. For good

Learning from the Approach

News feature on Michelle Devitt ahead of World Cancer Day. Michelle has been fighting not one, but two types of cancer. Pictured at her home in Bedminster, Bristol. Photo by Dan Regan 01/02/2016 Reporter - David Clensy Copyright - Local World
Michelle, pictured at her home in Bristol. Photo by Dan Regan

I first started learning about Penny Brohn during one of my oncology appointments following a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. The nurse specialist gave out a lot of information and mentioned Penny Brohn as a place people can get support.

I learned about the Approach course at the end of the Living Well course.  It was described as a really good follow on, offering space to discuss and explore the impact of cancer on my life. I had finished chemotherapy a few months before and it felt like the right time to get support to talk, to listen and reflect. It was also an opportunity to have some time away from everything, as I knew how supported and nourishing being able to stay at Penny Brohn had been before.

I was struggling with side effects from my chemotherapy and the emotional toll was becoming more painful. The fear and anxiety of what now, what if the cancer comes back, how do I move on from this, all felt overwhelming to deal with on my own.

During the course we discussed what helps with these challenges and worked through this in the group. This allowed a clarity and sense of empowerment, enabling me to identify a goal of getting back to a daily practice of meditation, something I knew really helped me during treatment, but which I had let slip.

Being on the course from the first evening felt like I was in a haven, a place of calm, comfort and one that felt instantly supportive.

There is something very powerful about being in a group of people who have had similar experiences. It allows a freedom to say how you really feel. A place where I was able to share my true experience for the first time. I was able to tell my story, unedited, to people who listened and supported me through that painful process. I met such inspiring and like-minded people on the course and we were able to laugh and cry with each other. It was a hugely transformative process for me, I felt it helped shift and give voice to some of the feelings that I had held in since first hearing “you have cancer”.

The facilitators were kind, gentle, supportive and knowledgeable, giving me a sense of being held by a really safe pair of hands.

The course brings together the Bristol Whole Life Approach, and reminded me it’s not just about the cancer. It helped identify what parts of me needed support, and how healing it feels to learn how to nourish and support myself. I had felt so broken after the operation and months of chemotherapy so being on the course really helped me start to feel whole again.

Having a place to say how I felt honestly, helped me start the process of acceptance, I felt closer to myself, more connected to my feelings and this felt very empowering and for the first time I could see a way forward.

Anyone who has been on the Living Well course will know how informative and supportive it was. Coming on the Approach gives another opportunity to stay at Penny Brohn, take some time for yourself and re-connect with all the support and tools that will help you move forward on your journey.

Michelle Devitt

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