My Story

Sarah's Story...

Sarah Crow.JPG

On Wednesday 26th October 2016 my world was turned upside down. I was 52 years old and was diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma a type of Non Hodgkin Lymphoma and told that there was no cure. My husband and I and our adult children were all devastated. I kept thinking “why me?” I was fit, I didn’t smoke, I wasn’t overweight and didn’t drink to excess. However, I knew from my work (I am a chemotherapy nurse) that cancer doesn’t discriminate and that I shouldn’t be surprised at my diagnosis, after all one in two of us will develop cancer in our lifetime.


I first felt a lump deep in my armpit in April 2016 and saw my local nurse consultant at my GP surgery who told me that there was no lump there and to stop worrying. Throughout the summer I would occasionally think that I could still feel a lump but put it to the back of my mind as the nurse had said there was nothing there. However, early in the October I found another lump and after seeing my GP found myself having a barrage of tests at the hospital which culminated in my diagnosis. It turned out that I actually had several tumours and had probably had the lymphoma for quite a while without realising it as I had no other symptoms or so I thought. It turned out that the nerve pain I kept getting in my leg when I went to bed was actually caused by a tumour pressing on a nerve, however some radiotherapy to the affected area soon sorted it out.

Follicular Lymphoma is very slow growing and it was decided that as I had no other symptoms I would go on “watch and wait”. This means that I am seen every three months by the consultant at the hospital to monitor how I am doing and to see if I need to start chemotherapy. At the moment I remain on “watch and wait”. It’s quite a difficult situation to be in knowing you have cancer but no treatment is needed at the present time, however I am making the most of the time I have whilst not on chemotherapy.

I decided to access the treatments and counselling sessions available from ‘Caring for me’ earlier this year when I found that I wasn’t coping very well with my work and home life. I was finding that I was increasingly anxious and stressed. At first I was very reluctant to access counselling as I felt that it “wasn’t for me” but I decided I would give it a go and I am so pleased that I did. I found it hugely beneficial to talk to someone who wasn’t a member of my family or a friend. I have also accessed reflexology through ‘Caring for me’ and I have found this to be very relaxing and have frequently found myself falling asleep during these sessions.

Terri's Story...

FullSizeRender.jpg

Last Wednesday 20th September marked my annual oncology review at Ipswich Hospital. These appointments consist of blood tests and a check-up and chat with my consultant about how I'm feeling/any worries or concerns I may have. In December I will be 8 years cancer-free which is just amazing news and I truly feel grateful for this every single day. However, these reviews bring it all home to me that actually no matter how far down the line you get - the cancer never quite lets you get away. The week before and days leading up to my appointments are always nail biting, nerve wracking times for me as there's always that little 'what if' niggle in the back of my mind.

Thankfully my blood tests all came back fine and the lymph node examination was all clear, however unfortunately as a direct effect of having radiotherapy to my neck area, one of the long term issues I now suffer from is an underactive thyroid which requires me to take medication every day now for the rest of my life. These levels are monitored every 6-8weeks at the moment and are proving to be difficult to get stabilised so a medication increase has been advised. The main symptom of this that I suffer from is extreme fatigue and exhaustion - which can be very difficult to deal with alongside the 'busyness' of general everyday work and life. Being 8 years cancer-free also means I am now required to have regular mammograms - I have a largely increased risk of developing breast cancer in the future which is another long term effect of having radiotherapy to the tumours in my chest area.

I'm sharing this today to hopefully allow people to understand that when you receive the 'all clear' it doesn't fully mark the end. The ongoing blood tests, scans, consultant reviews and medical issues as a result of treatment are always there to remind you of your journey with cancer.

The services we provide are to support people because we understand how anxious, terrifying and life consuming both the treatments and their side effects can be and sometimes it isn't necessarily when you are in the midst of your treatment programme that you require support, but actually afterwards when you have that bit more time and energy to digest what it is your mind and body have been through. We like to feel that our services are flexible to meet the needs of people affected by cancer - whether that be during or after their treatment.

Here is me pictured with one of my consultant's Dr Andrew Hodson - a gem of a man, always greeting me with a smile and taking the time to explain things to me regarding the medical issues I now suffer with as a result of my treatment and also making me aware of further issues that could arise in the future and what to look out for.

IMG_6975.JPG

If you or someone you know could benefit from our services, please download the application form featured on this website.

IMG_6964.JPG