It was about 8 weeks post-surgery, and I was in a really low place emotionally. People probably think I should have been happy. I was one of the lucky ones. I’d been diagnosed with cancer, operated on and given the all-clear in the space of four weeks. Mentally, though, it was (and still is) a really surreal and difficult concept to process.

I drove to pick my children up from school. I parked outside the school, looked at the mums in the playground and sobbed. I locked myself in the car, and cried so hard I thought I would stop breathing. I didn’t know how to cope with what was going on in my head, as well as all the physical symptoms I was experiencing (early menopause caused by surgery). I phoned my husband, who calmed me down and said he would arrange for one of our friends to collect the children. He told me to go home, where he would meet me.

So I went home, laid on my bed and fell apart. He held me and told me I needed to be able to talk to somebody who would know how to help me. He phoned Macmillan. We’d seen their adverts  but never dreamed we’d need to contact them. They were lovely but told him there was an eight week waiting list for counselling. I couldn’t wait that long. I was falling apart. They were very understanding and said they would look up what other services were available in our area. This is when they told us about the WCT, and the Cosham Centre. They said we could either phone them or just drop in.

It seemed like the solution. All I had to do was walk in, and talk to somebody.

Walk into a place I’ve never been, and talk to somebody I’ve never met about the hardest thing that’s ever happened to me.
As stupid as it sounds, it took me 3 weeks to gain the courage to do it. A couple of times I got as far as the door, and ‘chickened out’ at the last minute.

The day I did it I made up my mind that if I didn’t I would never sort myself out, and I owed it to my family. So I walked through the double doors, and down the corridor that led to what looked like a living room. It was cosy, warm and inviting. There was a lady who smiled at me and said hello. She offered me a seat on a sofa and asked if she could help me. I cried. I really cried. And I told her everything. It was such a relief to tell somebody how I felt who wasn’t emotionally connected to me. Once I’d finished talking, she introduced me to another befriender, and a counsellor. They were all so lovely and genuinely cared and understood what I was going through. They told me that I was welcome there whenever I wanted a coffee, a chat, or just somewhere to sit with my thoughts. They talked me through the fact that I could access free counselling and complimentary therapies too. I was put on a waiting list for counselling (which was only 2 weeks). I was also booked a Reiki session.

I’ve been there every week since then, and made some amazing friends. Everyone who goes there has either had/got cancer or is a carer/relative of someone who has. They understand. We can talk  and cry together, and nothing is too awkward or embarrassing to share. The befrienders and counsellor are honestly some of the most amazing people I have ever met. They are caring, friendly and always there with a smile and a cuppa. I'm a different person since going there. I’ve ‘unloaded’ all my worries and concerns with my counsellor who has really helped me to process the last year, and see the positives that have come out of it.

They are an amazing group of people, and I honestly don’t think I would have coped without them. My family have been fantastic but I needed someone detached from me, someone who I wouldn’t feel guilty about burdening my worries with. I love my weekly visits there. I have a session of Reiki, which really helps me unwind and refresh, an hour with my counsellor and a good chat with a cuppa.

It feels like my second home, and the people there are like a family.

 

You can hear more about Emily's story on her personal blog.