Cynthia, 55, from Essex, often felt alone during her treatment for breast cancer. But after suffering with the effects of chemotherapy, she became determined to get through treatment with the help of Breast Cancer Care.
After my fourth cycle of chemotherapy, I became very ill. I was in a lot of pain and was rushed to hospital. It turned out I had neutropenia – an effect of the chemotherapy, when the number of white blood cells in your body falls below a certain level. I ended up staying in hospital for four days.
I thought: ‘There’s no way I’m going to go through that pain again.’ I wanted to feel in control of the cancer, and not the other way around.
It was at this point that I turned to Breast Cancer Care.
The turning point
The day I contacted Breast Cancer Care – in May 2014 – was a real turning point.
I knew about the organisation because I’d raised money for them in the past, in memory of my mum who died from breast cancer. I went to the website to see what information and services were available.
I started reading up about my treatments and looking for information about eating healthily. This helped me understand what was happening to me, and made me feel more positive and confident about going through treatment.
Breast Cancer Care held local information sessions on healthy eating, exercise and relaxation, which I found inspiring.
I also went on their Moving Forward course, which helps people adjust to life after treatment. It was extremely helpful. A lot of people think you’re fine after treatment finishes, but you’re still going through it in your head. The date of my diagnosis – 7 January – will always be a reminder of what I’ve been through. Interacting with the other women on the course – who were comforting, caring and compassionate – really helped me along my journey.
I became close friends with three special ladies on the Moving Forward course. They’re now a very important part of my life. We understand the challenges and experiences of going through breast cancer, and we support each other when needed. I also feel it’s important to be around people who make you laugh, and these ladies do just that.
Facing treatment with confidence
I got so scared when I started to lose my hair to chemotherapy. It happened very quickly. I was really low around that time, and I’d lost a lot of confidence.
Reading the information on hair loss on the Breast Cancer Care website made me feel a bit better. It helped me understand what was happening – and it helped me embrace my baldness! I still use the Breast Cancer Care website for information.
My partner, family and friends were fantastic throughout my treatment. But while I never felt lonely, I often felt alone. I had some counselling sessions with a psychotherapist. It was one of the best things I ever did. It really helped me because I could talk about the things I wouldn’t talk about with a loved one.
Most days I told myself: ‘You’ll be fine.’ I also wrote down how I was feeling each day. This helped me see that I was going through a healing process, that every day is different and you just have to carry on. It’s important not to be hard on yourself.
Breast Cancer Care is a wonderful organisation. I hope a lot of people get to know them, because nobody has to go through treatment alone.
Are you worried about breast cancer? We were there for Cynthia and we’re here for you too.
Call our nurses free on 0808 800 6000 for care, support and information from day one.