Wednesday 11 Jan 2023
Maggie's Royal Marsden
Secondary breast cancer was never on my radar.
Once I had been given the ‘all-clear’, I didn’t realise that I could get the same breast cancer back in another part of my body.
So, it was a total shock to be diagnosed 17 years later with secondary breast cancer in my abdomen.
The horrifying news hit me hard. In the time between the two prognoses my life had changed positively; my son was now 19, an adult, and I lived with my new, wonderfully supportive husband. Was my perfect life over?
At one of many hospital appointments, my breast cancer nurse handed me a bright orange leaflet, she sang the praises of a charity – Maggie’s.
I was apprehensive. Did I qualify for help? Was I ill enough? Was it for me? I didn’t know what I wanted or even needed. I didn’t think I was worthy of support.
I was reluctant to take up people’s time. I wasn’t even sure I really needed help. None of this existed when I had primary cancer.
What I found was a warm, welcoming space that made me feel immediately at ease.
It was the antithesis of the dreary hospital waiting room. In between the comfy sofas, rugs, colourful cushions and the delightfully unique Pop Art bathrooms, there was an open plan kitchen where you can help yourself to tea and coffee.
At the kitchen table I met a member of Maggie’s, who simply asked if I would like a chat. And chat we did.
Maggie’s people genuinely listen and care. And unlike with medical staff, I didn't feel guilty for taking time to talk to them and ask for help and advice.
It was a sanctuary in those early days and weeks, as I processed the news, began to ask questions, and think about what I needed to do. I was able to ask about my cancer, my treatment and its side effects, and was given information on emotional and financial support.
I was also introduced to a fatigue workshop and a Living with Cancer programme where I have met some amazing people. We’re now friends, and we meet once a month.
I have also made use of Maggie’s extensive library of relevant literature and information, but mostly Maggie’s has given me somewhere to sit, chat and relax while I wait for my next blood test, MRI, PET scan or general poking.
At Maggie’s I can speak freely and openly with like-minded people about our physical and emotional wellbeing, about our hopes and dreams.
In a sense, all this gave me back my future, a chance to plan for an active life.
Through it all, I realised I still have a life to live and a lot to offer.
I have had cancer twice – once without and once with Maggie’s. And I can tell you – having Maggie’s makes the world of difference.
Our cancer support specialists, psychologists and benefits advisors are here for everyone with cancer, and all the people who love them.
Last review: Jun 2023 | Next review: Jan 2024
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