Sandra is 44. She had bone cancer in childhood and had a leg amputated as a result. She managed the difficult adjustment of moving on with life after that and prided herself on being a ‘coper’.
In later years, Sandra’s father had cancer and sadly died. At 43, Sandra was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went through the process of surgery and radiotherapy and it was after this stage that she began to find the anxiety that she had about recurrence quite unmanageable.
Sandra was reassured about a new breast lump that she found, but was finding it very difficult to cope at that stage due to her anxiety that the cancer would return. Her breast care nurse referred her to see a clinical psychologist. Having always seen herself as a ‘coper’, it was very frightening now to feel less able to cope – and Sandra was not hopeful of psychological therapy being useful.
I didn’t really think it would do me any good in the slightest. I’ve never actually sat and spoke to anyone like that before and I just thought it would be a total waste of time….and I couldn’t believe it was the total opposite. After seeing the psychologist the first time I thought oh yeah I felt a bit better in myself and I felt like I’d let things go but as time went on it was absolutely I think the best thing I ever did.
“Talking to somebody you don’t know makes such a difference, it really, really does. You can sit and talk to your family and friends but … I think you try and hold a lot of stuff in when you talking to family ‘cause you don’t want them to go through what you’re feeling and it’s amazing when you talk to someone you don’t know how more and more things come into your head. You start realising what you are actually worried about."
“I thought no, I didn’t need it I’m OK and everyone thinks that they are OK and strong … and that’s what I thought I’ve got through cancer once I’ll get through it again I don’t need anybody else’s help but I’d recommend it to everybody – even just a first appointment to see what they think. I wish I had been able to open up to someone after my first cancer."
I’m happy to tell people I’ve had breast cancer and look at me I’m still here… You can think you are strong and cope with things and get over it but when you are sitting there on your own and things start going through your head, it’s nice to sit and talk to someone and things do start coming out.