In 1980 I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 28. Life was quite difficult, I had two small children to look after whilst battling the disease and dealing with my emotions from the surgery of a mastectomy and trying to remain positive was challenging, however I beat the tumours.
You can imagine how shocked I was when, in 2008, I was told I had lung cancer and had to undergo further surgery to remove the lung and rid myself of the disease once again.
It was then that I was introduced to Willow Wood for support. This was a lifeline brought to me by the Macmillan nurse. Initially I was scared because the only idea I had of hospices was sad and to do with death, however, once I was introduced to the day centre on a Wednesday and after meeting all the carers I soon found out my worries were unnecessary and that it was there to support me through a very difficult time. After attending for 12 weeks I realised how amazing Willow Wood was, it soon became a very special part of my life, everybody there did all possible to support me and make my life easier in any way they could. Further information was that all the tumour and been removed and once again I was clear of the disease.
In 2016, after a routine appointment my world was rocked once more. The diagnosis was not good. I was told I had secondary cancer in various parts of my body and after further assessments, the diagnosis was that my condition was terminal.
Once again the services of Willow Wood were recommended. There had been many changes to the hospice and the care since I had attended in 2007. My previous care and support had involved spending each Wednesday for 12 weeks undergoing counselling, if I felt I needed it, and participating in complementary therapy that was offered.
The packages now on offer were on a much more individual basis. Willow Wood created a variety of talk groups to support both the service users and carers, overseen by a trained member of staff. I joined a group for women with similar prognosis to myself, which to this day is still playing a huge supportive role in my journey. The discussions are always confidential and the caring nature of each lady within the group is of huge value in my life. My husband was also invited to a similar group for men who are caring for women, this has been of enormous importance in his life. It was now clearly visible that Willow Wood was reaching out to support the needs of all whose lives were being affected by cancer.
Complementary therapies offered had now grown and were taking place every day. The emphasis on how important they can be to men and women suffering long term life debilitating diseases was promoted. I myself have engaged in a variety of the therapy sessions and have found them to be wonderfully calming, in body and mind.
Willow Wood has recognised the needs of its users and has established itself as an aid to support both recovery and acceptance of future journeys.
To myself, Willow Wood holds a very special place in my life. It holds my hand through a difficult journey and supports those around me with coping strategies to support and maintain wellbeing. Willow Wood plays a substantial role in my life, its users’ lives and the lives of those affected by cancer.