Support Groups

Support Groups

At the End of Treatment appointment at the hospital, I told the Nurse that I was already struggling with trying to go back to normality.  Of course, what was happening was that I was trying to get back to routine and life before Cancer.  And this was impossible.  I didn’t have the mental or physical strength one month after radiotherapy finished to even try and rush around as I did before.  And I couldn’t understand why (even though it was glaringly obvious) nor could I accept it.

She went through several options I could try to help me move on with things, and I left there with another bundle of leaflets and business cards.

I don’t need to go and sit around with people I don’t know and talk about my personal feelings. I’m fine, I’ll just manage – plus I need to get back to work, so won’t have time to go and have coffee and cake up the road.  No, I’ll be fine.

Support Groups

I wasn’t fine.  So, you’re dealing with:

Surgery pain, Chemo side effects, radiotherapy side effect, fatigue, daily stresses of children/school runs, mental anguish that now treatment is over with you should be superwoman again, lack of stamina, lack of patience, lack of alcohol (when CAN I have a glass of wine again without feeling sick??), lack of memory and just to add insult to injury – you’ve started the dreaded Tamoxifen!

And THAT has side effects ALLLLLL OF ITS OWN for you!!

I digress.

I knew I couldn’t carry on, on my own.  My Husband and children although understanding, weren’t inside my head dealing with the daily demons and neither were they professional BC nurses who could give me advice on tap.  The hospital had highly recommended that I put myself on the waiting list to attend the Moving Forward course for Breast Cancer patients, a space on which was available in 6 weeks’ time.

But I needed something now. I decided that going back to work in the Office was just the medicine I needed instead.

See article ‘Life After Treatment Ends’ for more detail on this.

Moving Forward

There is a specific course for this, which is run in partnership between Breast Cancer Care and the NHS hospitals. The Moving Forward course usually takes place over half a day for three or four weeks.  A few professional speakers provide information, support and professional guidance on how to cope with and adjust to life after Breast Cancer treatment.

Topics covered may include: healthy eating, exercise, managing menopausal symptoms, lymphoedema, cancer fatigue, and intimacy and relationships.

I attended the Moving Forward course over the next month and it was so helpful.  I was able to sit with a group of ladies who have all been through the same thing as me, realising that the feelings I was experiencing, were being felt by many of them too.  We were able to speak quite openly at times on the course, able to question the information given to us, and ask how others there are dealing with things.  I looked forward to going.

The course, for me, wasn’t long enough.  We had lots of information placed around the room, and could pick up leaflets about various aspects of living with Cancer. There was a different subject each week.  From Diet, Exercise, Emotional and Physical Well-being, etc.  People could take with it what they wanted.  Personally, I found it a brilliant course.

Except for one week, where I didn’t feel as comfortable as some of the other ladies there…

We were all sat in our usual places, about 15 of us in a circle.  The ‘speaker’ that week was a Counsellor who was there to talk about Mindfulness and Well-being.  Initially I thought this was exactly what I needed to listen to.

What she wanted us to do was to close our eyes, place our hands on our legs, and then in a soft breathless voice started to speak.

“Imagine you are on a journey…you are on a boat and the waves a gentle.  But the wind picks up and your boat starts to rock…”

Trying really hard not to giggle at this point – meditation, yoga etc is all alien to me, come on Claire hold it together.

“Your boat is starting to rock and you are hanging on…”

Ok, the thing is, I work for a Ferry company…all I can think of is being on one of our boats in the English Channel.  Inside I’m giggling so much at this analogy, of all the things to pick.  How I held it in I will never know!”

So, the Counsellor continued for another ten minutes and then we were told to open our eyes.

“How did you find that?” she asked.

“Oh, sooooo relaxing, yes lovely” came the response from the other ladies.  I stayed quiet you’ll be pleased to know…

I felt awkward.  Maybe this mediation thing is just not for me. Either that or it’s going to take a LOT of practice!

One great thing about the course, was being able to natter at coffee breaks, or when the discussion was opened to the us.  Hearing others’ experiences was very interesting, and we were all at different stages of life after treatment.  Mine had only just finished, but there were ladies there who were 6 months, 9 months down the line, as the courses were very few and far between.  I was fortunate to have it held in my home town, however some ladies had to travel quite some miles.

Take the Plunge

There were a few leaflets I had given to me and the more I thought about it the more I thought it could be a good idea.  But with returning to work on the cards, the meet ups were falling on days where I had to be in the office.  None seemed to take place on my day off.

Oh well, that’s that then, never mind!  Cop out…

But one leaflet I kept going back to.  Wessex Cancer Trust.

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