Friday 30 Apr 2021
Maggie's Forth Valley
In 2019, Ashley was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer at 35. Immediately after her diagnosis, she visited Maggie's. Here, Ashley tells us how she found comfort in Maggie's virtual support groups during the pandemic.
It’s probably easier for me to start at the beginning.
When I was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer on 22 March 2019, it was a massive shock.
But it had taken me about five years to get to that point.
I was having on-going issues with my stomach and persistent problems that meant I was continually going to the hospital, gastroenterologist, GP in circles. And it was just the same thing. It was never being resolved, but I knew there was something wrong. It was a really tough spell.
Then the diagnosis came. I felt lost about what to do and who to turn to, and where to go.
It’s a very rare cancer, and it wasn’t immediately obvious what came next.
There were not many other 35 year olds I knew who had cancer, let alone neuroendocrine cancer.
I just decided the next day I would go to Maggie’s and that I’d speak to someone. And I’m so glad I did.
I got the opportunity to meet people. Immediately, I met others who were really supportive.
I signed up to take part in the relaxation classes, which helped me hugely.
And talking to Yvonne gave me the chance to speak to someone who knew and understood exactly how I felt.
Neuroendocrine cancer is rare, but it also manifests itself in different ways.
It’s just so quirky: people have such different symptoms and different needs. It risks being a bit of a diagnostic blind spot.
Certainly in my case it took a long time for it to be recognised.
I’ve been able to join two groups: a neuroendocrine group, and a support group for young women who are all living with cancer.
I’ve found people I can relate to – it might be difficult to find someone who’s had the exact same symptoms as me, but I have found others who know exactly what it feels like - that uncertainty, the fear, and the doubt.
I also really enjoy being part of the young women’s group: we’re all different, but we’re able to speak and be open with one another.
"It’s the hardest bit when you’re going through a diagnosis, and the part I’ve found most helpful from Maggie’s: that I can say 100% how I feel and not worry."
Without these groups, it would have been really lonely. Having the comfort of being able to be honest, you can’t imagine the relief in being able to do that.
When you’re low and down, being able to be true to your emotions is really important. It’s had a huge impact on my well-being.
It’s been a strange year for us all however, so I am so glad to be getting back to normal and Maggie’s is a huge part of this.
I‘ve been involved in virtual groups and counselling sessions during lockdown, which has been amazing but nothing beats getting back into the building and seeing everyone.
A huge part of dealing with any cancer diagnosis is connecting with others who understand and can relate to you.
For me, this has been critical for my well-being and being able to deal with living with cancer.
Everyone at Maggie’s Forth Valley goes over and above, I cannot thank them enough for the support and care I have received over the past two years. The centre is my safe haven and I know I can go at anytime for help.
No appointment is needed; just come in.
Last review: Jun 2023 | Next review: Jan 2024
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