After winning £100 in the Breast Cancer Care Weekly Lottery, Sarah Jessiman decided to treat three friends who’d also had breast cancer to afternoon tea.
I’m friends with all three of my guests, but until the afternoon of the high tea at Coombe Abbey near Coventry, Sharon, Christine and Tracey had not met.
We’re all at different waypoints on the road to recovery.
It’s amazing how well I feel now
I was diagnosed at the age of 45 having found a lump. I had a lumpectomy followed by chemotherapy, radiotherapy and am two-thirds of the way through my hormone therapy.
It seemed a very long road through treatments, but it’s amazing how well I’m feeling now and it has certainly made me embrace life.
Although my three companions had not met until the day of the high tea, we quickly and easily formed a bond and were able to, and will continue to, pass on practical, positive support.
As well as the invaluable support I have received from fellow breast cancer patients, I must also mention the fantastic love and support from family, friends, work colleagues and of course the medical teams.
It’s all added to up to make the journey a less lonely one. My beautiful hearing dog Kai has been right by my side every step of the way, helping those treating me to understand my deafness.
Supporting each other
From left: Sharon, Sarah, Christine and Tracey
Tracey found a lump when she was 45, but it was two years before her GP referred her to University Hospital in Coventry, in April 2015. Tracey is now having chemotherapy.
‘I’m coping well,’ says Tracey, ‘and I’ve been very lucky with the side effects. I’ve lost my hair which wasn’t easy to come to terms with, but I’ve got some lovely borrowed scarves and hats from Sarah and a couple of wigs that, to be honest, I feel very comfortable in.
‘I’m getting daily support from the ladies on the High Tea Club. When I finish my treatment, I’m going to take them all back to Coombe Abbey and treat them with the money I’m saving on haircuts, colours and hair products.
‘I loved meeting Chris and Sharon. At my stage of treatment it's nice to see there is a life to work towards afterwards.
‘Sarah has messaged me every day to see how I am and now we have a group chat to support each other!’
Sharon was diagnosed in February 2010 at the age of 41. ‘I had a mastectomy and also a reconstruction,’ she says. ‘Unfortunately it failed and had to be removed less than 24 hours later. It was a very traumatic time.’
Sharon later had chemotherapy and Herceptin.
Sharon also appeared on the BBC programme for deaf people See Hear, when they dedicated a week to the subject of cancer. ‘I wanted to raise awareness of breast cancer for many deaf people out there who do not always have access to information,’ she says.
Dancing three times a week
Christine was diagnosed in September 2014, at the age of 63, after she found a lump while showering. She had a mastectomy and reconstruction in October, and started chemotherapy in November.
‘It was the help of my husband and the support of Sarah that got me through,’ says Christine, ‘along with hearing dog puppy Nevis, who I was socialising at the time and who stayed by my side throughout.
‘All my lovely friends were great, but lacked the understanding of someone who has been through the experience of a cancer diagnosis and treatment.
‘I finished chemo in March this year but am still having Herceptin injections every three weeks. I get a few aches and pains from the Herceptin but, otherwise, I feel really well and am dancing three times a week again now!’
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