Teresa on leaving a legacy after finding a place to breathe in Maggie's

Thursday 18 January 2024

Maggie's Swansea

I’d heard about how lovely Maggie’s was through friends. So, in April, when I was diagnosed with anal cancer, I knew exactly where to go for support.

I was on holiday on a cruise at the start of 2023, when I began feeling some pain when I sat down. I blamed the beds or seats on the ship. Then I blamed piles. But the pain did not get better.

It wasn’t until I got home weeks later that I could go to the doctor and get the wheels in motion for my diagnosis.

My first visit 

I would need 28 sessions of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I wanted treatment to begin so the pain would go away. But people kept telling me it would get worse before it improved.  

I went to Maggie’s for the first time before starting treatment and I felt apprehensive, having heard the horror stories. I live on my own, so I was really worried about coping with treatment.  

As soon as I stepped foot into Maggie’s, the energy felt different. 

I looked around and could see people chatting at the table, so I joined them. I listened to them discuss their own brilliant experiences at Maggie’s. 

Somebody came over to me to show me around and I couldn’t stop thinking how lovely it was. I could see at once that it was a safe space where I would be understood. I felt protected. When I came into Maggie’s, I felt I could breathe.

After treatment 

I'd call in now and then during my treatment to have a cup of tea and a chat. But after my treatment finished, Maggie’s came into its own. I needed to go out and not sit in the house worrying. Maggie’s was the logical place to go. 

Luckily, about a week after I finished my treatment, a ‘Where Now’ course started so I joined. 

Each week, we’d learn something new and different people came to talk to us. 

Dieticians, psychologists, oncologists; we would practice relaxation and breathing techniques and learn how they can help reduce fatigue, lower stress and anxiety.  

We learnt different exercises to ensure we could keep active despite our bodies having changed. In the final session, as I am a belly dancer, we learnt a simple bellydance routine together.  

But the best part was the other people I met. Their resilience and their stories really helped me.

We’re still friends, we have a Whatsapp group and we try to get together every month.  

I had good news about a recent scan and when I messaged the group, they were so supportive. I can tell my friends, but they don’t understand it in the same way as somebody else who has waited for a scan result.

That was actually the first time I cried since my cancer diagnosis: tears of relief.  

The way I feel at Maggie’s is the most important thing. It’s a feeling that I can go there, be as open as I want, share absolutely anything and not be judged. 

Leaving a legacy 

When I decided to write my will, Maggie’s was my first thought. I want other people to be able to get the same support I had. I don’t have children, and I want my money to go somewhere that means something to me.  

I used the free wills service which was really simple and straightforward, far easier than I expected. 

I thought it might be complicated because I wanted to leave money to Maggie’s, and also to my niece and nephew. But all I had to do was message Maggie’s to see when there were appointments available. 

I told the representative what I wanted my will to say. After the appointment I was sent a draft and I replied with some changes. It really has been as simple as that.  

Living alone with cancer

When you live by yourself, you have to be everything for yourself. Even when you’re not feeling well, you have to get up and make your food. Make the bed. Go shopping. No one’s there to give you a hug, make you a cup of tea, or tell you that you’re doing OK.  

That’s why Maggie’s has been so important for me. I can get emotional support and unburden myself in a way I can’t do by myself at home. 

I can also share good news at Maggie’s. When I got my recent good news, as well as messaging my friends from ‘Where Now?’ I messaged Laura the Cancer Support Specialist to tell her how happy I was. She said “you should come down and have a chat so we can celebrate” and I thought that was such a lovely thing to say. So when I got my biopsy results, that’s just what I did.  

Maggie’s should, without a doubt, be at every single cancer centre. If you were considering leaving money to Maggie’s in your will, I’d say do it. It feels good to give back, knowing that it will have value in the future.

We’re here for you

Our cancer support specialists, psychologists and benefits advisors are here for everyone with cancer, and all the people who love them.

Come and see us at your nearest Maggie’s, call us on 0300 123 180 or email us at enquiries@maggies.org

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