Life doesn’t stop when we’re diagnosed with cancer. But it does change immediately. Often in the most frightening and overwhelming way.
Our biggest fear is not being here to help more people, who like Paul can find a way to live well with cancer with the right support. Join our Because I need more than medicine campaign this Christmas to help someone live well with cancer.
“I feel like I’ve been given permission to be myself again” – Paul
If you’d told me that I could live well with cancer I’m not sure I’d have believed you. But in so many ways it’s true. I feel like I’ve been given permission to be myself again. I don’t feel my life is dominated by a medical approach, my focus has shifted towards me and what I can do for myself. It hasn’t been easy, so many of the changes cancer brings are utterly terrifying and I wouldn’t have made it this far without Penny Brohn.
That’s why I’m asking if you will please join me in making a gift to Penny Brohn this Christmas. A gift of £20 for example, could enable this extraordinary charity to help more people get the help they need and carry on – even when they know they may face an uncertain future.
Penny Brohn UK has helped me accept that being diagnosed with cancer is not personal. They have helped me to focus on what I can do to help myself rather than being in a battle with the cancer.
In 2017, I was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer. I didn’t have any of the typical symptoms and lived a healthy lifestyle. I didn’t smoke, rarely drank alcohol and went running regularly. I just wasn’t expecting it. It was such a shock and hugely traumatising.
The minute I was diagnosed, cancer took over my life. My life became a never ending roundabout of appointment after appointment; test after test; scan after scan. Cancer dominated everything and I felt very negative about the future.
I remember buying a new kettle not long after I was diagnosed. I couldn’t be bothered to fill out the two year guarantee as I didn’t think I would live that long.
After I was diagnosed my brother told me about Penny Brohn UK. He had attended a course with his wife when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was curious about what they could offer and decided to book on to a Living Well course. Part of the reason I wanted to attend a residential course was to give my family a couple of day’s rest.
“Before coming to Penny Brohn, I was anxious about seeing cancer as something I needed to fight because I didn’t want my daughters to see it as something I could lose.“
As soon as I walked into the National Centre it felt like I was in a different world. Everyone was so welcoming and the atmosphere so calm.
I was worried that everyone would be moaning about cancer and how unfair it was. It wasn’t like that at all. In fact, I was so surprised that we didn’t spend the whole time talking about cancer. When we did talk about cancer, it was as something we needed to acknowledge, work with and overcome.
I’m quite a private person and enjoy my own company but I found meeting people in a similar situation helpful. I’ve learnt how healing it is to be with other people and have made a conscious decision to connect with others. Eating with the group at every mealtime was such a positive and therapeutic experience.
I wanted to get myself back, and recover my dignity which had been lost during treatment. Coming to Penny Brohn has helped change my thought process. I now realise there are things I can do to help myself and the medical approach is only one part. I really felt like I was getting “me” back; no longer feeling like I’d been taken over by the chemo.
I’ve never been a competitive or aggressive person and it was a relief to accept that I wasn’t in a battle with the cancer; that it was something that I would need to take with me.
Before coming to Penny Brohn, I was anxious about seeing cancer as something I needed to fight because I didn’t want my daughters to see it as something I could lose.
When I finished Living Well I felt euphoric. I went home with ways to change my diet and exercise. I felt like I had been given permission to be myself again. I found a shift from being dominated by a medical approach, towards one focused on myself.
I have been back to the National Centre to attend the Approach. This time I knew what I needed and was more proactive so it was a different experience. Plus, I had the opportunity to meet with a Penny Brohn doctor, and a nutritionist which was priceless. They really focused on me as a person and not on the cancer. They helped me to see how I am the expert in me and my own disease. This has given me great strength when meeting with my oncologists at the hospital.
I’ve since had surgery, radiotherapy and more chemotherapy but I feel better equipped to deal with treatments and change. I’m beyond grateful to the NHS for the treatment I’m receiving. As you read this I will be recovering from a liver resection. But its thanks to Penny Brohn, my attitude has changed.
Penny Brohn UK has helped me accept that being diagnosed with cancer is not personal
and has helped me focus on what I can do to help myself rather than being in a battle with the cancer.
My life has changed in so many ways since I was diagnosed with cancer. I have become passionate about living well with a cancer diagnosis and feel strongly about using my experience for good.
That’s why, if you are able to make donation now, I urge you to do so. I promise you, someone somewhere will be so thankful that you did because they wouldn’t be able to access these services free of charge in any other way.
Thank you so much for reading my story – and for whatever you can give.
With warmest wishes