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News | 19th September 2019
 

Making sense of cancer

 
 
 

Lucy Nicholson of Hollows Mill, Canonbie explains why she and a friend are organising a coffee morning to coincide with the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, run by Macmillan Cancer Support.
THREE years ago our family’s lives were turned irretrievably upside down.
I had found a lump in my breast and, after an excruciating wait for the appointments to come through for tests and a consultation with the breast cancer consultant in Dumfries, I sat there with my husband, Craig, desperately trying to make sense of the turn our lives had taken, trying to absorb the fact I was being told I had breast cancer, that I needed a mastectomy and I needed it next week.
I was in my early 40s and our daughter, Erin, was 18 months old. Was this really our new reality?
Cancer treatments are often very effective but they are brutal and they are invasive.
Chemotherapy and surgery mercifully worked for me but cancer is an illness which casts a long shadow.
It affects every imaginable element of your life; how can it not when, essentially, you have something inside you trying to kill you?
When you are going through something so hard, which current statistics say one in two of us will face at some point in time, you are so reliant on the teams of people around you: professionals, friends and family on helping make sense of what is being said, what it means by way of treatment, side-effects, long-term prognoses, being supported to feel how you feel and to make adjustments in your life.
You are more reliant than you have ever been before on the kindness of strangers.
For me, one of the hardest stages was when all the treatment stopped; when I was a wonderfully successful statistic and the frequent medical scrutiny and appointments dropped away.
In some ways, it was only then that my head came up for air and the enormity of what we had gone through hit.
For me, that was also where Macmillan stepped in and became a meaningful part of my recovery.
Great resource
Don’t get me wrong, the Macmillan Centre at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary was a great resource for help and information.
Booklets explaining things in plain English were invaluable but, after treatment stopped, for me Macmillan gained a real face.
Every so often a lovely Macmillan nurse would call in and we would just chat.
This kind, unassuming lady would listen, help me make sense of the changes to my body and my abilities and to reach a kind of acceptance with what happened, how I was then, how things would always now be different, as me, as a mum, as a wife, as a working professional.
Three years on and, in many ways, we are still rebuilding our lives and adjusting to the “new normal”.
The journey doesn’t just end like that; it continues. Everyone’s cancer journey is different but I now feel I have the wherewithal to try to give something back, even in a small way so, along with friend who went through treatment at the same time as me, we are hosting The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning at Gilnockie Tower, Clan Armstrong Centre, on Friday, September 27 from 10am to 12pm.
If you are free and able to come, we’d love to see you but, to be honest, anything you can do to support Macmillan at any point is appreciated.

 
 
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