I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 and as my treatment was not too invasive I consider myself to be extremely lucky. Having said that, cancer has had a massive impact on my life; I have found that the emotional impact of the diagnosis continues. So much so, that earlier this year I was signed off work with anxiety and depression. I knew I had been struggling since my diagnosis but felt I just needed to ‘pull myself together’. I subsequently made the decision not to return to paid work for the time being.
At the time of my diagnosis and treatment I had a strong sense of wanting there to be a reason for cancer barging into my life unannounced – I couldn’t really explain it better than that. When I saw the advert for volunteer cancer advocates I knew immediately that this was what I wanted to do. I was signed off work at the time and I recall that as I was filling out the application form somehow my whole cancer experience was being turned around. It was almost like the flicking of a switch from negative to positive.
So far, I haven’t looked back. Being accepted to do the training at Impetus was hugely exciting – meeting other people with their own cancer stories and talking about cancer in a much wider sense, i.e. not just breast cancer, was immensely interesting. I felt I was learning so much but also beginning to realise just how I could use my own knowledge, experience and skills in such a different way – to support others affected by cancer.
Being matched with my first client was exciting – I was keen to start. In preparation for my first meeting I did a bit of research on the internet, just some background information, and I found I was enjoying this new challenge in my life. Finding out and learning new things seemed especially compelling and I can feel that I am already looking forward to the prospect of working with more clients.
Cycling off to meet my client for the first time was a little daunting, however my worry was short lived as he was a pleasure to talk to. We were able to discuss the information I had researched and he was delighted that I had already drafted a letter; I was getting things moving.
I am delighted to be involved with Impetus and Cancer Advocacy – not only am I helping others affected by cancer, but they are also helping me.
This was written by Judith, one of our volunteer Cancer Advocates.
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