I was diagnosed with stage 1 grade 1 breast cancer in September 2010. Overwhelmed at times, and in deep shock, an instinct for self-preservation kicked in as I sought to make sense of the experience. This manifested as an urgent and fervent effort to find out as much as possible about the particularities of my disease, and how I can make positive lifestyle changes.
I had radiotherapy and a lumpectomy before being put on Tamoxifen, which I stopped after 13 months, despite it being recommended for five years. This experience was both overwhelming and disempowering. I encountered active opposition from consultants, including my oncologist, when being proactive in seeking out information on different treatments.
On one occasion I was told that I was 'bad for the morale of the health team' at my hospital.
The whole experience is one in which the patient is expected to be docile and compliant. I found that my attempts to engage consultants in discussions about the latest clinical or research findings invariably engendered negative responses.
I have seen a medical herbalist; acupuncture, reflexology throughout the time since my diagnosis, although I paused the medical herbal medicine while pregnant. I have changed my diet, limited drinking and given up smoking. I trained to do transcendental meditation. I have travelled to the Penny Brohn Cancer Care Centre near Bristol several times where I attended yoga and qi gong classes.
Yes to Life funded most of this, including covering train travel expenses to Bristol so I could visit Penny Brohn. All of these things have been of inexpressible benefit to me and are part of a long-term approach to healing, both emotionally and physically. My gratitude to the Yes to Life organisation is immeasurable. The funding that has been provided has helped to transform my quality of life.
At my first annual check up post diagnosis, my surgeon asked if I’d had radiotherapy, when I responded that I had, he said I showed no signs of this. I credit this to the weekely acupuncture I was having during radiotherapy as well as other treatments, medical herbs for example, to minimise the damage to my body.
Yes to Life enabled me to embark on a profound journey of physical and emotional healing, on a scale I could not have previously imagined. Knowing that I could access complementary therapies gave me an invaluable sense of security and continues to do so. This healing continues to provide an invaluable sense of hope for the future.
I think I’ve said it all, immense thanks to everyone involved with Yes to Life.