“When I was given the news of having breast cancer, and then a fortnight later, secondary cancer, it struck fear into my heart. No one wants to hear the word ‘cancer’. The word ‘cancer’ is terrifying, absolutely terrifying. The same goes for words like ‘hospice’, ‘Macmillan Nurses’ and ‘Maggie’s’.
“You don’t know what they are going to do, you don’t know why you’re going- apart from the fact that you’ve been handed this sentence – you don’t know what’s involved.
“When I first came here for the exercise class, on the recommendation of my Macmillan Nurse, I first thought: ‘Hospice? I’m not ready for a hospice. I’m alright, I don’t need this.’
“I lost all my confidence when they diagnosed me so I came to the door [of the Day Hospice], around 12 weeks ago, and I rung the bell. I nearly didn’t ring the bell, I saw the bell and I thought ‘No, I can’t do this, I have to go’ but I rang the bell.
“It was aromatherapy first and then the exercise class. The aromatherapy has helped me to cope with an exercise class. I had eczema on my foot but [aromatherapy] has helped and given me the confidence to wear pink, and bright colours, I love my colours.
“Then my Complementary Therapist brought me through to meet the Physiotherapist for the exercise class. I thought I was fit until I started here. My Physiotherapist told me to take my time but I thought ‘I can’t do this, I shouldn’t be here’. I was doing 40 lengths of swimming a week but on coming here, I couldn’t put one foot in front of another.
“Coming here has been 12 weeks of fun. I have loved every minute of it. There’s a bit of a laugh, a bit of talk, my Physiotherapist supports me, she pushes me but says ‘If you can’t do it, don’t do it’.
“I can’t believe I’m the same person that I was when I first chapped that door, because now I can chap that door and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest, I love it!
“We work on stretches, balance, getting everything moving again, and standing on one leg for sixty seconds. Sixty seconds has been a target from week one and I managed 44 seconds last week, which is the best I’ve ever done. It’s brilliant, it really is. I wouldn’t be where I am today without what I’ve done here.
“When I go for my aromatherapy, it relaxes me. Reiki puts me to sleep, I just drift. I’m totally refreshed and raring to go.
“I get reflexology too. I love it; I’d never had that before until 12 weeks ago. Nobody ever touches my feet. I used to go to the beautician to get my nails painted but when I lost my confidence, [I stopped] so that is something else I’ve had to overcome. My complementary therapist recommended reflexology and I’m glad that she did, because like I say, my foot was red raw with eczema and it’s not red raw now, you would never know I had it. I wish we’d taken before and after pictures – the same with the exercise class, then we could see [where I was then] to where I am now.
“Doing this, talking, if I hadn’t come here, I wouldn’t be here; I would have given up. I would have lay in bed and given up. This has given me my life back for as long as I can keep it going, which is what I’m going to do. If I hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you.
“It’s an inspiration and I just wish that more people knew about it and would use [the service]. Some people do know about it but they won’t take that step.
“You meet people, and then the following week, one of them isn’t there, which has happened to me a few times, but because of the staff – they help you through it. I’ve met some wonderful people in here.
“You do get attached [to people] but I think the staff do tremendously well. They don’t invade your space and you don’t invade theirs. They’ll do whatever they can for you, they’ll do as much as they can, but they don’t come into your space if you’re not ready for it.
“It’s helped me socially, mentally and physically – the full package. It really has. When I first came here, I didn’t have these colours on. I had a dark pair of trousers and a dark top on but then I thought ‘No, I’m colour, this is me’. My Physiotherapist actually encouraged that because I was talking to her after one of the exercise classes and she asked how I was. I said ‘I’m fine but I do colours, I like colours, I’m a colourful person’. I love pink so she told me to come back next week with a pink outfit on and that’s what I did.
“Things have happened over the years that have knocked my confidence, I’ve had to rebuild quite a few times and I have. I’m still here, I’m still fighting and I’ll keep fighting as long as I can walk, talk…
“If [talking about my experiences] helps another person, I’ll do it. If talking about it can do something for someone else that was like me, that’s good. I hope that a lot more people know about the services here.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of people, I’ve got friends who are going through the same as me and they don’t know where to go. I’ve told them to come along. I’ve told them it’s not about going to the hospice and getting into a bed and thinking ‘That’s me’. It’s not like that. It’s a day unit where you meet people, you get exercise, and you get a chat and cup of tea. It’s the taking part, it motivates you. Some people are just terrified to take that step, like I was, but if I hadn’t taken that step, I wouldn’t [be where I am today].
“I am me, I am actually a better me. I’m more confident than I’ve ever been. My aim was to make it to a night out in the West End of Glasgow last week. I went and I had my first pair of high heels on since my diagnosis and I was up dancing in the middle of the floor and have photos. [At one point during the evening] someone asked my husband where I was, I was up on the dance floor. I thought ‘I’m not sitting down!’
“I just get up every day, put my earrings in, put on whatever I want to wear and I just make the most of that day and it’s because of these places, I know it is.
“Cancer can be a lonely place if people don’t know about places like this.”
Posted on behalf of Susan on 30/09/2016