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Guest blog: How to Rebuild Your Confidence After Cancer

Guest blog: How to Rebuild Your Confidence After Cancer

This blog post is from the amazing Allie Morgan. Allie is a confidence coach, working with cancer survivors and those with chronic illnesses. After overcoming bone cancer at the age of 14, Allie knew that the end of treatment could be a difficult time for 

Guest blog: How I came to be a cancer counsellor

Guest blog: How I came to be a cancer counsellor

This is a guest blog from a lovely lady called Claire who is a counsellor and life coach working with cancer patients. In this blog, she tells us how she got to be in this line of work and Tell us a little about yourself… 

Guest blog: setting up pink parcels

Guest blog: setting up pink parcels

In December 2019 I was enjoying my red hot shower, a welcome break from England’s typical December freeze when I thought I’ve not done a breast exam in a while! Whilst searching hoping it would all be fine there it was an embedded pea shape lump! My heart stopped I instantly froze and mentally planned my funeral and then it dawned on me how would I break this is to my hubby and child?!

After a glass of wine (extra extra large) I calmed down and knew I had to face this calmer or it wouldn’t be cancer that might kill me it would be a heart attack!

It was Christmas time and trying to get into the GP was borderline impossible however I persisted and after a few days I had to beg the receptionist to have someone see me, turns out if you just tell them what it’s for they can magic you a same day appointment – who knew!

I had lots of people see my boobs and feel them and prod and poke me and after a hunky GP (cringe) a consultant who told me I was mad, an ultrasound, mammogram and multiple biopsies I was given the devastating diagnosis of Triple Negative Breast Cancer at the age of 27.

I am still undergoing treatment whilst writing this, its actually my final chemo of 16 tomorrow but my treatment plan is 16 chemotherapies 5 different drugs, surgery – currently opted for lumpectomy but my surgeon may change this if she feels it’s not suitable – and Radiotherapy.

I was taken on a quick tour of the chemo unit and thanks to Coronavirus I was told I would have to go it alone as no visitors were allowed for the foreseeable- gulp! If chemotherapy isn’t scary enough having to do it alone was terrifying! After having a little cry, ok I lied a huge sulk and sob I decided I can’t go 7 months upsetting myself like this so I had no choice but to somehow turn this experience into a positive not only for me but for every other petrified patient on that chemo unit, after all we only had each other now!

After some deliberating and scouring Instagram for inspiration I decided I was going to create Pink Parcels. One thing I know I can do best is pamper myself so I know exactly how to make others feel pampered too. I started off with 50 parcels and to this day I currently have distributed 150 free pink parcels to chemotherapy patients and I’ve had some wonderful things come from this and made a life long friend – you know who you are!

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Included in pink parcels are usually tissues (when chemo takes your nose hair, you’ll understand!), Vaseline/lip balm, a wordsearch book and pink pen, box of sweets or mints, face masks (beauty kind not corona kind) gin gins, wax melts, beauty samples, playing cards (men’s boxes) affirmation cards and various other treats I come across.

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I’ve done various fundraising all whilst I’ve been having treatment myself I’ve raised over £2,500 via walks, social media, gofundme page and honestly I’ve had a blast there’s nothing more I love to do than put a smile on someone else’s face at the end of the day I don’t know these people, they might not have families to go home to or look at through a window (again, thanks corona!) so something as little as this parcel can really make a difference to someone’s day and for me it was a welcome distraction.

When lockdown started and the country was thanking the NHS I couldn’t be more grateful to them, I owe them my life! I see so may other girls from all walks of life paying thousands of dollars etc for their treatment and I’ve even had people from other countries asking me to share their justgiving pages as they can’t afford the treatment, I realised how lucky we are to get this all for free! So in typical pink style (I’m know known as the pink lady at my hospital) I put together some pink bags for all the chemo staff on the ward which consisted of: face masks, nail varnish, coffee, hot chocolates, handmade jars, sweets, perfume, wax melts, badges, hand cream, lip balm, beverages (gin and Malibu) and they was so grateful it was really the least I could do as they was saving my life and I never once heard them complain, although I couldn’t guarantee they was always smiling under copious amounts of PPE in the summer!

I think all I can say to you is when your first diagnosed its so easy to get caught up in the google searches and scare yourself to death but honestly put down the laptop and anything your unsure of ask a breast care nurse or your oncologist/consultant don’t ever listen to Dr Google as I’m pretty sure he’s never been to university!

If you look around you there will always be a smiling kind face in the room somewhere who will spark up a conversation and keep you company on your chemo journey, I’ve met so many amazing people on my journey and made friends I’ll keep forever. If you told me this on day 1 I would have told you where to go but as I stand here now I can say you will get through it, your stronger than you think and there’s no many genuine people out there willing to help you through and will stand by your side the whole way, you are never alone.

Guest blog: Memo for Pink Charities: Men Get This Disease Too

Guest blog: Memo for Pink Charities: Men Get This Disease Too

By Rod Ritchie Sitting in my doctor’s waiting room for a visit to find out the reasons for a breast lump, the last thing on my mind was breast cancer. I was relieved when, on this visit, and a subsequent visit, I was assured that 

Guest blog: my run-in with cancer

Guest blog: my run-in with cancer

Today is my 1 year cancerversary. One year ago today, I got a call in the morning before I left for work that my preliminary pathology report from my biopsy came back negative. I could expect to hear more from them in the next day 

A review of the Jane Clarke Nourish Drinks

A review of the Jane Clarke Nourish Drinks

Today I am going to tell you about the Jane Clarke Nourish Drinks. I’m a huge fan of Jane Clarke and what her team at Nourish do for people going through health issues, including cancer. The Nourish team and I have a history of collaborating, sharing blog posts on each others’ sites and contributing to each others’ articles. So, given our history, the team asked me to try their new Nourish drinks and let them know what I thought. Well, they kindly sent me a box, I’ve tried them and because I liked them, I thought I’d let you all know about them.

They are highly nutritious drinks that can help someone who is going through a health issue, or recovering from a health issue, and who may not be able to eat normally for whatever reason. A bit further into this post, Jane tells you more about them and their health properties, I’m just going to tell you what I thought. There are four flavours: chocolate, mango, vanilla (my favourite) and raspberry. They taste and feel very much like yogurt. They come in small bottles which are the perfect size so that you don’t have to worry about using up a big bottle of the drink within a day. One bottle is enough for a meal , snack or accompaniment to a meal. You can have them as a drink or you can incorporate them into your meal by, for example, pouring them over some fruit or granola. I particularly liked the fruit and vanilla ones with fruit and I found that the chocolate one worked well as a drink. That’s just my personal preference. I thoroughly enjoyed all the flavours. I don’t have a health issue that affects my eating, so I was able to enjoy them as standalone drinks, with breakfast (with granola) and as a dessert (with fruit). All four flavours were delicious but my favourite was the vanilla one!

To give you a bit more information about the drinks, I asked Jane some questions and here is what she told me:

I created Nourish Drinks to provide a solution to the problem of undernourishment for those who are vulnerable or facing a health challenge. I’ve been a nutritionist for 30 years and although I’ve advised many high-profile actors and sportspeople, I’m probably best known for and proudest of my work with those living with serious illnesses such as cancer, neurological degenerative conditions, dementia and stroke.

So often, illness and its treatment robs people of their appetite or ability to eat, and that lack of nourishment leaves them more vulnerable to the disease, less resilient and recovery takes far longer. In those situations, the first call for many doctors is to prescribe a meal replacement drink – Fortisip or Ensure are the best known – but these are so processed and full of artificial ingredients, they taste awful and so many patients leave them untouched, so they don’t get the nutrition they are meant to provide.

I decided there must be a better way, one that respects and inspires individuals by providing good-quality natural ingredients, flavour and true nourishment, and that’s how I developed Nourish Drinks. Our motto is Every Mouthful Counts, Every Person Matters, so whether you’re coping with illness or simply need an energy boost before exercise or an alternative to a traditional breakfast before you head out on the school run, Nourish Drinks are for you.

I took great care when developing the drinks to use only the best ingredients and flavours that you’ll actually love – top-quality chocolate, Madagascan vanilla, fresh raspberries and mangoes (Raspberry is my favourite!). Unlike other fortifying drinks, Nourish Drinks are made only with natural and organic ingredients (no nasties), with all the protein, carbs, calories, vitamins and minerals you need as a meal replacement if you can’t face a plateful of food. As you know, chemotherapy can create a metallic taste in the mouth that makes food taste odd, but the naturalness and depth of flavour in Nourish Drinks should help counteract that and feel soothing if the mouth is also sore.

When you’re unwell, appetite is such a fickle thing – sometimes you don’t want to eat and just sipping a tasty drink is perfect; sometimes you can face a bit more food and want to take the opportunity to build yourself up a bit more. What’s brilliant about Nourish Drinks is because they are made with only natural ingredients, they can be used in recipes to provide extra ‘secret’ nourishment. On our website we have recipes for porridge, ice cream, smoothies and more, all of which include Nourish Drinks. And I love to add a shot of espresso to my Vanilla Nourish Drink for a creamy, wake-me-up coffee in the morning!

So there you have it, my honest review of the Nourish Drinks, together with Jane’s answers to my questions.

And if you, or a family member, would like to buy a box of the Nourish Drinks, they are available in Vanilla, Chocolate, Raspberry and Mango flavours, delivered direct to the door under Covid-safe guidelines. Available at www.nourishbyjaneclarke.com and more information is available here.

Full disclosure: I received the drinks free of charge but with no obligation to write a positive review. This is an honest review, written after trying the drinks.

Guest blog: The OWise App – what is it and how can it help you?

Guest blog: The OWise App – what is it and how can it help you?

This week’s guest blog is from the OWise team. You may have seen OWise on social media (with their really informative posts about breast cancer) or come across their App. In this guest blog, they tell us how the App came about and how it 

Guest blog: when the C word reared its ugly head… again

Guest blog: when the C word reared its ugly head… again

Today, Nic writes about being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer… Completing treatment for my primary breast cancer is quite possibly the most surreal experience I have ever had. My friends and family celebrated their huge sense of relief that I was through the darkness but 

Your Life and Cancer 2020 Online Event

Your Life and Cancer 2020 Online Event

I’m proud to be a supporter of this event, which has such an amazing line up and which you can attend from the comfort of your own home.

Quick read…

26-28 Sept and 10-12 Oct 2020 www.YourLifeandCancer.com

Designed for anyone who is affected by cancer, Your Life and Cancer 2020 aims to introduce you to the growing world of Integrative Medicine, combining lifestyle, complementary and conventional approaches.

Held over two weekends 26-28 Sept and 10-12 Oct 2020, Your Life and Cancer features doctors, oncologists, therapists, best-selling authors and case studies from people who have benefited from an integrative approach.

More than 40 cancer care experts from around the world will be online to share their knowledge and answer your questions.

Register for just £25 per weekend (early bird rate).

Find out more: www.YourLifeandCancer.com

Longer read…

Your Life and Cancer 2020

26-28 Sept and 10-12 Oct 2020

www.YourLifeandCancer.com

Your Life and Cancer 2020 is a live online event, aimed at supporting anyone whose life is affected by cancer. Learn about evidence-based lifestyle changes and complementary therapies that can supplement conventional medical treatments to optimise your health and wellbeing.

Hosted in partnership with Yes to Life, the UK’s integrative cancer care charity, Your Life and Cancer 2020 brings together world-famous oncologists, doctors and therapists who will present evidence informed information on lifestyle changes and cancer-related integrative healthcare therapies. The event also includes ‘real life’ case studies from those who have benefited from integrating lifestyle and complementary approaches alongside conventional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.

Through this event, aimed at people who have had a cancer diagnosis, their family, friends and carers, as well as oncologists, medical practitioners and therapists, Your Life and Cancer 2020 provide a short-cut to reliable evidence informed information to enable you to make informed choices about how best to support yourself, your family, friends or patients.

Held over two weekends, 26th to 28th September and 10th to 12th October 2020, the weekends feature a breathtaking line-up of over 40 expert speakers from across the globe. For the full list of speakers, please visit: www.YourLifeandCancer.com/speaker-list

Ticket prices start at £25 per weekend for the early bird rate registrations before 18th September and registration couldn’t be easier, you simply fill out a short registration form at www.YourLifeandCancer.com/register

For more information visit: www.YourLifeandCancer.com or email

Please note that the decision to support this event was mine due to the impressive line up of speakers and quality of the sessions on offer. In return for supporting the event, I have received a complementary ticket to attend. I do not receive any additional commission or payment.

Guest blog: secondary breast cancer – I can and I can’t…

Guest blog: secondary breast cancer – I can and I can’t…

By Flori Hendron My friend Dikla called me last week. She tells me she’s now been living with MBC (metastatic breast cancer) for 18 years.  And then laughing she says, “my cancer is old enough to vote!” The two of us crack up at this 

Guest blog: Clinical Trials for secondary (metastatic) breast cancer

What you need to know By Emily Jordan, co-founder of Ancora.ai “Too many patients don’t live near or get treated at a cancer center. Local oncologists need information and patients need to be informed of their choices and empowered to ask for them. Clinical trials 

Guest blog: What a CBT Therapist Did for Herself When Diagnosed with Secondary Cancer

Guest blog: What a CBT Therapist Did for Herself When Diagnosed with Secondary Cancer

My background

A bit of Context

Sometimes I look back on the days when I had primary breast cancer and think how far I have come on this cancer journey. Everyone hopes that Secondary Cancer doesn’t happen to them. Others fall for the weird assumption that once they reach the end of treatment it is all over and they can put it out of their mind. I didn’t choose either path. I am a natural born researcher. Whatever fascinates me, I do my best to make my eyes square with the reading of it all. I am fortunate to have had all my treatment in Italy. Here they give you every single report and scan discs to keep and take with you to every appointment. They do have everything backed up in the system as well. But my health information is mine. I don’t have to beg or fill out GDPR forms to see it, I just get it on the same day. So, I had my hands on my biomarkers straight away.

Sometimes I look back on the days when I had primary breast cancer and think how far I have come on this cancer journey. Everyone hopes that Secondary Cancer doesn’t happen to them. Others fall for the weird assumption that once they reach the end of treatment it is all over and they can put it out of their mind. I didn’t choose either path. I am a natural born researcher. Whatever fascinates me, I do my best to make my eyes square with the reading of it all. I am fortunate to have had all my treatment in Italy. Here they give you every single report and scan discs to keep and take with you to every appointment. They do have everything backed up in the system as well. But my health information is mine. I don’t have to beg or fill out GDPR forms to see it, I just get it on the same day. So, I had my hands on my biomarkers straight away.

My Ki 67 tumour proliferation marker reading is quite alarming to read. This is a little known, to the general public, tumour aggression biomarker. If the Ki 67 is high it means the tumour is more aggressive in proliferation. My Ki 67 reading was 60. Triple Negative Breast Cancer is a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer and it made sense to me to have a high Ki 67, even though it made the diagnosis difficult to take. And the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes, meaning I was Stage 3.

Throughout all my initial treatment, I knew it was probably unlikely to be the end of treatment when the last radiation was mysteriously beamed into me. I walked away from treatment with a pragmatic view of, ‘we will see’. I did set about living my ordinary life. I worked, I entertained, I traveled. But I watched for signs and tell-tale symptoms like a hawk. During my initial treatment my surgeon and oncologist assured me that my type of cancer was unlikely to spread to the brain. I pointedly asked them this question, as I had read of the likelihood in my TNBC research and dreaded the thought of a secondary cancer in the brain, more than anywhere else in my body. I dreaded being brain damaged.

After my treatment was completed, they told me I should expect dizzy spells from the 30 rounds of radiotherapy and possible sight issues. And, sure enough, in the month after radiotherapy, I noticed a decline in my eyesight. I was frequently banging my elbow and shoulders frequently on door frames too. I put this down to the radiotherapy. I checked my breasts weekly and did a mental body check for any weird pains, there were none. I went for my first mammogram and ultrasound since my first ever one. It was clear. ‘So what’, I thought, only somewhat happy. After all, with all the surgery, chemo and radiotherapy, it was no wonder.

Secondary Reality

I always remained vigilant. It was in the month after the first clear mammogram and ultrasound on my breasts when my foot started to clip the pavement on my daily hill walk. I knew something was wrong with my motor skills. This coincided, in the same morning, with the full-on collapse of my handwriting. I just knew something was going in in my brain. I went to Accident and Emergency the same day as these symptoms, and was seen immediately and brain scanned. An hour later, I was whizzing through the streets in an ambulance to be admitted to my local hospital’s neurological ward with a two-centimetre brain lesion, in the front of the left side of my brain, in my motor skills section.

Was I terrified? Did I cry? No, I was resigned. All my research had prepared me for this moment. I knew what to expect. I knew the statistics. I was, however, deeply unhappy and very unimpressed with the misinformation given by my medical team. They had sometimes made me doubt my own independent research. I was determined to fight for people in my shoes if I got through this next phase. I even made a vow in the ambulance to help spread the word about secondary cancer signs, when I was through the recovery.

Some Tips on How to Cope with Secondary Cancer

Being Mentally Prepared for Bad News

It’s a strange thing being mentally prepared for bad news. It makes us more desensitised. As a CBT therapist I am an expert in helping people with anxiety and phobias. One CBT technique I use on my non-cancer clients with phobias is a visual desensitisation technique. Effectively, you imagine yourself in the feared, but likely, scenario, intensively, over and over again, until you bore your brain into submission, to the point where you don’t feel fearful anymore.

What I do

A brain tumour was a probability with TNBC, and I knew this from my own research, so I wasn’t surprised or shocked. I wasn’t imagining having a brain tumour, over and over again, but all my reading of secondary cancer from my initial diagnosis, in a way, desensitised me. I am aware of the probability of reoccurrence in my brain, bones and organs. This would be no surprise to me if a scan showed up something in the future. Yes, I would be disappointed but not surprised.

Seek Out Inspirational Stories of Stage 4 Remissions

Unfortunately, we don’t know enough about secondary patients who outlived all predictions to go on and live another decade or many more, but I know they are out there. If we solely relied on the medical statistics for guidance I think we would all be majorly depressed! But medical statistics for cancer only count the patients who stayed in the system and then only normally for five years. Then you get stats such as this person has a 50% chance of living for five years. But they only say five years because they stopped following patients after five years and many patients dropped out of seeing their oncologist when they passed the magic five year point, so they can’t accurately provide further data.

What I do

By good fortune, I had a new business acquaintance who I was working with, at the time of the primary diagnosis, who had herself had secondary cancer 10 years ago. She was given three months to live with her diagnosis. She is still going strong and doing well in her business at 60 years of age. She was my inspiration, and champion, from the get go! I had also read ‘Radical Remission’ by Dr. Kelly Turner, twice during my Primary treatment. Dr. Turner tells lots of accounts of people that were stage 4 but went on to survive. Even though I had taken a lot of the book on board, I still wasn’t doing all that was recommended in this. I used this book to change a few things.

Make an Assessment of what you are not doing too well that may help you

Often people say to ‘just stick to what your Doctor tells you to do’ or’ follow the standard protocol’. But when you are at secondary stage there may be no protocol and little guidance. You must seek out the information yourself.
Assess the following areas in your life honestly: diet – including beverages, exercise, relaxation, pleasure, spirituality, mental wellbeing, rewards and sleep. Any of these areas can be easily forgotten or left by the wayside when dealing with the aftermath of primary cancer. Once assessed you may spot gaps that you can work on that could help your body and mind cope better with secondary cancer.

What I do

The most crucial aspect of my being diagnosed the second time was time for reflection, as I lay in my hospital bed for five weeks. I assessed my lifestyle, what I had been doing that was good for me and what I wasn’t doing, I saw a few gaps. I was exercising, my diet was already transformed, I had cut back to two small glasses of red wine a week, although my Oncologist thought one glass of red wine per day would be good, well I was in Italy after all, but I prefer to be cautious! One glaring gap was my spirituality, I wasn’t looking after my ‘self’ in the spiritual sense.

Spirituality can mean different things to different people. I am not religious, but I do like healing my ‘self’ but I had been neglectful of this area. So, I added meditation and Reiki into the mix, using YouTube. When I was hospitalised with my brain tumour, I couldn’t leave the hospital for five weeks, so I used meditation and relaxing sound wave YouTube videos on my phone with headphones, and they really worked. I was so relaxed my medical team even made the comment that they had never seen anyone so relaxed before brain surgery! I still use the videos a year on.

I feel a sense of bliss and calm envelope me within a week of using various videos. I added healing crystals into the mix too. When the neuro consultants came to visit me, they often found me zoned out, eye mask on, listening to a reiki crystal healing session on YouTube, with my crystals on my chakras, and – they didn’t laugh! They thought it incredibly important.

Declutter Life

Secondary cancer can really make you look at life quite differently even to primary cancer. You have a realisation of exactly how precious life really is. Take time to inspect what is working well in your life and what is not. This can mean doing a ‘Marie Kondo’ on your belongings! But think about what is taking up you valuable time. If possible, have a declutter of toxic people who are not serving any purpose in your life. Particularly let go of ‘Frenemies’ or negative energy drainers. You have the perfect excuse to do this now, and they will understand if you are looking to stop socialising (even though you are being socially selective).

What I do

I decluttered my work life, as soon as I could, once I was out of hospital. I had been working evenings for over a decade as a CBT therapist and I had the realisation that enough was enough. I blocked evenings out on my appointment scheduling system. This cut my client load significantly, and it was the right thing to do, it has helped enormously with my energy. Plus, I get to have dinner with my partner during the week, which was rare in the decade before Cancer, when I used to finish work at 9pm.

Be Careful of Who you Tell About the Secondary Diagnosis

Most people have no idea about secondary cancer. When they understand, they can react in unexpected ways. It’s fine championing on a friend during primary treatment because they probably expect you to come out the other end with the ‘all clear’, particularly if you are young. It’s quite another thing to support someone with an unknown ending, such as secondary. They can’t help but think and fear the worst. Sometimes people just can’t deal with the reality.

What I do

I only told ten people who I trusted, that I had been diagnosed with secondary cancer. The ten I chose were because I knew they would inspire me and wouldn’t give up on me. I didn’t tell anyone who is of a negative personality type, as they zap my valuable energy. I don’t let on to new people I meet socially that I have Secondary Cancer, as I look very healthy and don’t want to get treated with cotton wool. But I will keep my promise to myself to advocate for secondary cancer awareness on a professional level in 2020 the more awareness of what symptoms to look out for the easier it can be to treat, if caught early on, with metastasis!

Dealing with Scans

‘Scanxiety’ is a real concern among my clients with primary and secondary cancer. I don’t suffer with anxiety about upcoming scans myself, but a lot of my clients come to me for this very reason. I do recommend treating yourself with kindness, as the scan date comes closer. I make sure my clients have some powerful relaxation tools and cognitive techniques at their disposal. They use these more frequently, as the date draws near and after, during the wait for results.

The most important thing is not to predict any negative scan without evidence. Easier said than done. It is impossible to know what is going on inside our bodies. However, CBT is a rational therapy and I do encourage people to come up with a ‘Plan B’ for negative results. Type it up and store safely, this way you won’t have to panic or make rash decisions in the moment. Consult your ‘Plan B’ and see what guidance you gave yourself when you were thinking rationally. This can include a list of questions to ask the Oncologist, so make sure you can access the plan on your phone for meetings with your medical team.

What I do

I make my own appointments here in Italy, on the advice of my oncologist re time frames. I only see him every six months. Because I get the results and not him. If anything arises on the scan that needs his attention, I know I can see him, or his team, in a matter of days. I find the months speed along and before I know it the next rounds of scans arrive. I only feel a little anxious on the day itself, as we all do, we are all human. I do use some CBT breathing exercises when being scanned, so that I can relax in the tunnel! I haven’t had to redo a test yet due to moving or shaking, though it’s always so cold in the scan room! I also think of a topic I would like to think through during the scan, to occupy my mind, such as where to go on holiday or what Christmas presents to buy my family. That will be on my mind in the next scan in December! So far to date, I have had clear scans. Currently, I have a full body PET scan every six months. I have brain MRI scans separately every three months, I am expecting that to be less next year, if there is no recurrence. But again, I know I am lucky, as I live in Italy and have the results in my hand to read in a matter of hours so I don’t have to think about after scan anxiety.

Be Vigilant

Vigilance is key. There is a strong likelihood of all sorts of health problems with secondary cancer and I don’t just mean more tumours. Be assertive with your Doctor. If you are not an assertive person, I recommend doing CBT to get help with having the confidence to be assertive and to improve your communication skills in this area. It is mine, and a lot of my clients, experience, that doctors are not as responsive to secondary cancer patient’s needs, as they are to primary cancer patients. I think this may change in the future as cancer patients lobby for it, and with the increase in younger people being diagnosed with secondary cancer. In the meantime, you must be your own advocate and push for tests, scans, treatments and trials. With secondary cancer it seems those who shout the loudest get the attention sadly. If you are in no shape physically to advocate for yourself find someone who is. There are lots of great cancer advocates out there to assist you.

What I do

I allow myself to get consistent pains and aches checked out and insist on a scan to rule things out, after all no doctor has x-ray vision! I have an aching hip that my Oncologist is putting down to neuropathy, but I had an x-ray none the less. I use a three-day rule. If the symptom is still there after three days, I note it down. If it is still there after ten days, I see my doctor. Of course, this rule is for mild aches and pains only! For more serious excruciating pains or weird symptoms, like sudden vision loss, motor skills malfunction or organ malfunction go straight to A&E! I find my body responds better in warm weather rather than cold these days. We live near the mountains in Italy, in a very cold house. Last year, after leaving the big city hospital in January, we moved to the same city for five months and a cosy apartment for the rehabilitation phase, as it was a stroll to the hospital. We have booked the same apartment this winter too. Life is too precious to be cold!

Support Your Loved Ones

It can be hard to support others when you have secondary cancer, but if you can it will make you feel good to help. This can be often just letting people tell you about their bad day, their terrible boss, their break up… These may all seem trivial in comparison with cancer, but I am sure you can remember a time when those little things hurt too? People feel hurt for all sorts of reasons that don’t seem as important as cancer when you have cancer. It is important to remember the years before cancer. To remember the tears, the anguish, disappointments, frustration and anger at life, and all its obstacles, small and large. It’s too easy to have a comment or thought, such as, ‘Well at least you don’t have cancer!’ when a loved one is complaining about their lot. Be kind and aware of other people’s feelings and support them, as they support you.

What I do

I didn’t stop working throughout my primary breast cancer treatment. I knew that my attention would be best diverted with my mind focused on others, rather than focusing just on me. I had a lot of protesting, from my loved ones, they couldn’t understand why I had the need to keep seeing my clients, they just wanted me to stop working and rest. I didn’t have any major side effects, apart from hair loss, and I was able to work easily. (I had to take 4 months off to recover my speech after the brain tumour was removed, that was the hardest part, it was very boring and hard because physically I was fit but I had to rest.) I love my work and helping people learn amazing tools and techniques to ease their path through life’s challenges. Working was a form of respite from the situation at hand, and I am thankful for it. Just as, after my recovery from brain surgery, I have been working this year with my clients in my regular CBT practice and my cancer focused CBT practice. We all need to give some time to distractions, it’s good for the mind.

There is much you can do to help yourself cope with secondary cancer. If you need help with calming the mind or lifestyle behaviour change seek out assistance from professionals specialising in this area.

Written by Clare Reed, Cognitive Behavioural Therapist www.cbtforcancer.com

Guest blog: A slow train to nowhere

Guest blog: A slow train to nowhere

In this guest blog, Miranda talks about her secondary breast cancer diagnosis and the impact upon it has had upon her… In March 2019, I celebrated with a glass of fizz, the news from my breast surgeon that all was well and he didn’t need 

Guest blog: Q&A with Jo Taylor of abcdiagnosis.co.uk

Guest blog: Q&A with Jo Taylor of abcdiagnosis.co.uk

As part of the focus week on secondary breast cancer issues, Jo Taylor, breast cancer patient advocate and founder of ABC Diagnosis, has done a Q&A about her personal story and the work that she does on behalf of breast cancer patients. 1.Can you start