When I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer aged 33, I was married and had a 9 year old son and 1 year old daughter.
Although people were very kind and helpful to me, a cancer diagnosis is isolating. A friend called Laura organised a meal rota through my church, so that my family was fed with a hot dinner for a few nights every time that I had chemo and radiotherapy.
I knew of a lady called Beliz in my church, but didn’t know her well. I found going through chemo incredibly boring, and although my husband almost stopped working to care for me and our kids, do school run and general life admin etc, I did miss just having fun. I was also aware that my husband was burning out and sometimes needed a break from me. I still went out every day, even if just for a short walk around our local park on chemo days.
My husband Mike asked on Facebook if there was anyone who would be willing to spend half a day with me once a week, so that I could try to escape the cancer bubble for a while.
Beliz responded, saying that she didn’t work on Thursdays, and could take me out somewhere ‘safe’, (not too busy), once a week. I was quite surprised that someone who didn’t really know me would be so willing to give up her spare time. I asked if we could go to villages or the countryside on our days together, as was so bored of the same few places that were considered clean enough for me to visit in our home town of Swindon.
She was wonderful: we had some enjoyable days out at National Trust houses, villages and local beauty spots. It was summer and most places were quiet due to it being a week day. She looked after me so well, but in a way that didn’t make me feel like an ill person anymore. We developed a strong friendship, that we still enjoy four years later, long after my treatments have finished. Our daughters have become friends too.
She admitted that she has a phobia of needles, and could barely look at where my picc line went into my arm, but she hid that so well that I never felt uncomfortable, or anything but a valued friend.
I think that kindness and having some time for people is so underrated in our society. I will always be grateful to Beliz, and our time together remains a highlight of my cancer experience.