Where is the Emotional Support after treatment, for people affected by Cancer?

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, aged 38, i was propelled into a frenzy of medical appointments and life saving procedures. My medical team were there for me 100%. As a trained nurse I could not fault the care I received. My team responsible for my care became my security blanket, as long as I had them by my side I would be ok.
So what happens after treatments finish? What is life like after Cancer? Well for me it was scary. At a time where I thought I would be rejoicing in the fact that my cancer had gone and I could finally get on with the rest of my life, the reality of it was that I was too frightened to live my life. What if the cancer came back? Every pain in my body resulted with me going into complete panic. I will never forget presenting at my GP surgery with persistent headaches. I was convinced I had brain mets and my GP sent me on my hysterical way advising painkillers! That was a very low point for me and the point where I wondered where was the support for people who were struggling emotionally after Cancer.
I attended 2 sessions with a Clinical Psychologist, a Moving Forward course, a Look Good Feel Good course, a Younger Breast Cancer network conference and have even been on a Living Well After Cancer retreat. And although I am so grateful for these events as they did help my mental health and emotional needs, the problem is they end. A one hour session once a week for 4 weeks is not enough. Because once again you are left alone to cope with life after serious trauma. Those feelings of fear, helplessness, grief, sadness, despair, come to the surface all too soon again. The cancer support groups, choirs etc that run once or twice a month are great if you can get to them. As a single parent to a young son, they have been almost impossible for me to attend.
During my darkest days I used to wish there was somewhere I could just go to, to talk to someone or just to have a good cry. Somewhere that was accessible when I needed it. I would phone my mum and she would often say she was in the “crying café”. A place she would go to for a coffee but end up reflecting on the traumatic experiences our family had faced because of my cancer diagnosis. Crying alone in a bustling café. Where is the support for people who have been affected by cancer?
One of the biggest cancer charities in Wales has cut their counselling services and another mental health charity has a waiting list of at least 6 months for counselling services. With more and more people being diagnosed with cancer and mental health related issues, where is the support? Where is the care and compassion that is clearly missing in post cancer care. In 2022 the new Velindre site is due to be built in Cardiff with the addition of a Maggies centre, a well known charity that provides support for cancer sufferers. In 5 years time! We need something now.
There needs to be a home away from home environment, a place of comfort and support that is accessible not only for an hour but all day, all week, all month and all year. A place to offload. A comfortable, tranquil place where people affected by cancer can feel safe. Nobody should face cancer alone, yet so many people do. And nobody should feel abandoned after cancer treatment as this is the time when support is needed the most.
With so many cuts to much needed professional after care services, I am looking for help with the initial plans/funding advise to set up a centre in a homely environment to provide emotional support for people affected by cancer. Think of a ‘weight lifted of your shoulders’ environment. Comfortable sofas, cushions, throws, trickling water fountains, soft music and lighting. Run by volunteers with lived experiences of cancer who empathise with the overwhelming fearful thoughts that can arise from a diagnosis of cancer. An area that could accommodate tables for mindfulness activities such as art therapy, craft and design, crocheting/knitting/sewing, cake making. But more importantly, supporters supporting each other. A hand to hold if words are too difficult. A worry box to write down the most difficult of thoughts, to release the burden for a better quality of life. A place where cancer charities can refer people to for much needed support. But mostly a much needed place for people to go to should they need to.
Any help/suggestions greatly received. Please contact Debbie via email on debdeb2503@gmail.com

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One thought on “Where is the Emotional Support after treatment, for people affected by Cancer?

  1. So very proud to have you as a Niecentre Debbie. Good luck in what you are trying to achieve. Just a thought have you tried your local library to see if they have a room they could let you use as a starter. Meeting up with like minded people as yourself to off load problems? ? Or even a pub that has a spare room? Skittle alley that they don’t use during the day? We are all here for you even though we are miles away. If anything we can do please ask! Xxxxx

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