“To know I wasn’t alone and having time to talk through how I was feeling was so beneficial to my mental health”.
Kathleen Faherty shares her cancer story and how the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity helped her through her treatment.
Being a working mum with two children to look after plus a teaching job meant my life was always busy! But for once I had a day to myself and was enjoying a long awaited lay in when I felt a soreness in my right breast – something wasn’t right. I tried to book a doctors appointment but with no success, I went about life as normal over the weekend but a nagging concern in my mind just wouldn’t go away. I need to get this seen to, I thought.
I went to my doctor that week feeling very frightened; I was referred to the Princess Alexndra Hospital in Harlow where I was later diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. The initial shock left me unable to retain any information and it was completely overwhelming. Fortunately I had my mum and friends by my side for subsequent appointments who were able to help me process what I was being told. I was getting texts and letters from the hospital constantly and it was a lot to handle.
This was in November 2019 so I made the decision to delay my treatment until after Christmas so I could enjoy the festivities as best I could with my family. My chemotherapy started in January and initially I had few side effects. Later on after starting a new set of drugs I started to lose sensation in my feet and fingertips and eventually started to lose my mobility altogether; it was such a terrifying time.
In July of 2020 I had my lumpectomy and the month after my radiotherapy began. I became so exhausted from all the different treatments I had to ask my friends and family to begin driving me to my hospital appointments which of course they did without hesitation. On top of all this the pandemic was in full swing and I had to shield for some of the year which made things even more isolating and scary.
It was around this time I remember one of my cancer nurses giving me a big bundle of literature to read that I had kept in a draw; tentatively I opened it up and saw a leaflet all about the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity. What had I to lose? I gave them a call and looked forward to my first appointment with Clare Wood at the West Essex Support Centre.
Even now I find it hard to describe how much that first appointment helped me; I hadn’t realised how much my body had been struggling. My back was knotted and I sometimes found it difficult to walk, but after a massage from Clare I wasn’t in pain and she truly gave me my life back. Later on I had reflexology which was so relaxing, just chatting and enjoying the sensations. The charity literally got me back onto my feet after a long and difficult time.
During lockdown I had regular telephone calls with Natalie and she was absolutely phenomenal. To know I wasn’t alone and having time to talk through how I was feeling was so beneficial to my mental health. I can’t thank Clare and Natalie enough.
To give back to the charity that had helped me so much, this year I decided to challenge myself to take part in the Lee Valley Velopark 10k and other events, five times and get sponsored. I have recently completed my first run and feel so proud of myself and have managed to raise over £1,000 already for HRCC!
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