“Each day is a bonus and I don’t want to miss a single minute of it.”

Maria Crossley from Danbury near Chelmsford was initially diagnosed with cancer in 2010; here she tells us how the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity was instrumental in her treatment. 

It was 2008 and I was working for the Crown Prosecution Service when I was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma; this came as a complete shock to me and my dear husband Paul. I underwent treatment but sadly in 2010 I was diagnosed again; this time with breast cancer.

Professor Neville Davidson was my Oncologist at the time and referred me to the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity for reflexology to relieve the symptoms of my chemotherapy with therapist Elaine. Little did I know our paths would meet again nine years later.

Paul and I were on holiday with friends in Croatia when we started to notice my cough; it was a constant, hacking cough out of the ordinary. Upon returning from our trip away we knew something wasn’t right; I had constant fatigue and just didn’t feel my normal self. One exceptionally aggressive coughing episode called for us to dial 999 and an ambulance swiftly arrived. The initial diagnosis was Sepsis and I spent a week at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford to recover and for treatment.

During this time I also noticed a marble sized lump just below my chin; concerned, we booked a GP appointment straight away. Under the watchful eye of the fantastic Dr Sunil Skaria, tests were made and another diagnosis followed; my body had developed more cancerous tumours unsurprisingly in my lungs and also was the cause of the lump in my throat. My prognosis was Stage 4 cancer; history was repeating itself but Paul and I remained positive that we had got through the cancer twice before. Chemotherapy began again in December 2018 and we would overcome it together.

The side effects as before were not pleasant, however this time I suffered from extreme photosensitivity which meant I couldn’t go out into the sun without wearing at least factor 50 sun cream. Or instead I would wear clothing made from bamboo material which gives exactly the same effect. My chemotherapy warranted me to take a drug called Capecitabine; three tablets in the morning and three in the evening. I also had stomach injections called Denosumab once a month and constant tests to ensure my white blood cells and immune system were at an acceptable level.

I decided to return to the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity after they had been so kind to me all those years ago; a familiar face greeted me at the door once again, Elaine the therapist at Rochelle House Support Centre in Chelmsford. Her reflexology treatments have been instrumental in the alleviation of some of my side effects from treatment, as well as the wonderful therapists Fiona, Sue and Nicola.

Each time I visit the Support Centre there is always a friendly, smiling face and a cup of tea waiting for me; a wonderful welcome every time. Laying on the therapy couch with music gently playing in the background, I really feel I can just drift away with relaxation and if I want a chat, sometimes I will and if I don’t, that’s okay too. Reflexology has helped with backache, my nasal passages and my breathing in general which I tend to struggle with now.

Without my husband Paul, my friends, family and the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity I really don’t know if I would still be here today. Although my prognosis is terminal, I am living each day to the fullest, whether we are taking a trip to the National History Museum, or simply enjoying an afternoon tea in a little café.

Each day is a bonus and I don’t want to miss a single minute of it.

If this article has raised any concerns then please contact your nearest Helen Rollason Cancer Charity Support Centre; you can find your nearest one by clicking here.