BECCA is the Breast Cancer Care app that gives hints and tips on moving beyond breast cancer.
We asked Damalie, one of our 88 fantastic Product Champions, a few questions about using BECCA. She is based in London and teaches English as a foreign language.
How are you involved with Breast Cancer Care?
When my treatment was all done the doctors said ‘go and have a good life, you’re finished.’ I felt so tearful all the time. Everyone around me was encouraging: ‘You look well,’ ‘You look so much better now,’ but emotionally I felt worse than during treatment.
I thought about getting straight back into work but a lot had changed: I was very forgetful, the treatment had changed my appearance and my confidence too, so even though my employers had been very supportive, it was difficult.
I attended one of Breast Cancer Care's Moving Forward courses which I found a huge help. I then wanted to give back to the charity so I went to one of their innovation workshops a few months ago, where BECCA was introduced.
Since then I’ve been a Product Champion for BECCA, the Breast Cancer Care app, discussing it with them and testing it.
Why do you like using BECCA?
I love that BECCA is friendly. It’s small and simple and doesn’t overwhelm you.
When you go onto a website there’s so much packed on there, but the app is gentle and friendly. If you want more information you can click-through. If not, you can just move on to the next card. You can get from it what you want on that particular day.
Which BECCA cards do you use most?
Sometimes if I forget I need to look after myself BECCA gently reminds me, and will recommend things that can help you do this.
I have used BECCA to get inspiration on healthy eating and I’ve followed some of the recipes.
After chemotherapy treatment, I became more sensitive to sound. Noisli, a website recommended in BECCA, plays calming sounds and helps alleviate the noise in my ears.
Damalie's top tips for moving forward from breast cancer
1. Take each day as it comes
I found it really difficult to make long-term plans and I was given the advice to take things day-by-day. If you have an unsuccessful day, don’t dwell on it and try again the next day. Don’t push yourself; don’t expect to get back to work straight away.
Keeping in the same routine each day really helped to prevent me from wallowing. It gave a sense of control over my life - I didn’t feel like I had lost everything to cancer.
I’m still on that journey. There are times when I still feel bad, but taking things day-by-day soon became week-by-week, and my plans are gradually getting longer-term.
2. Don’t keep your emotions bottled up
I started writing a lot which was very therapeutic. Not every day, but when I had a burst of emotions I offloaded them on paper. I was often very tearful and needed to put those emotions somewhere.
Sometimes I can’t pin-point how I’m feeling, and I go on BECCA and it helps me make sense of this; it tells me it’s okay to feel this way, or gives me things to do to make me feel better.
3. Be honest with your friends
My friends were very keen to help but I actually felt the need to deal with most of it myself. I felt overwhelmed because my treatment had been an extremely busy time, keeping up with all the appointments.
It was hard to explain this over the phone, so instead I sent them each a text message explaining, 'I know you want to help me; I need space but will ask for help when I need it'. I then wasn't afraid to ask for help when I was ready for it, and it was needed.
4. Look after yourself
I’ve learned to look after my body, I don’t take it for granted anymore. I try and exercise. I know my limits and have taken on a healthy lifestyle.
BECCA is like a friend reminding you to look after yourself. She gives you information but only if and when you need it, and then it’s there at the touch of a button. The advice we got during and after treatment you can forget, you forget to look after yourself, to have some me-time, you go on BECCA and she reminds you.