My clinical nurse specialist recommended My Cancer My Choices to help with the side effects of chemotherapy. I contacted them and decided to book reflexology to try and help me relax and calm my anxiety. From the moment I walked in to the reception the smiling staff were so friendly and made me feel at ease. I ended up having 6 sessions, donating money for the last 3. The treatments help me relax, feel calm and gave me something to look forward to. I can’t thank My Cancer My Choices enough for helping me through that difficult time in my life.
When I was at this NHS facility one of the nurses had mentioned MY CANCER MY CHOICES as a good place where I can get support to recover from my surgery and also to put my worries at ease.
I was initially skeptical as I was told the services are free, but when I called the offices to enquire about their services, the staff were soo welcoming and did their best to explain everything to me.
The staff informed me all the services offered and I think within a week I was offered one service REFLEXLOGY. I had no idea what it was but decided to give it a try. My first treatment I was introduced to a lady who immediately made me feel comfortable and welcome.
The atmosphere at the treatment room was serene and nice. I immediately felt at ease and relaxed with the treatments.
I had six sessions of reflexology and after that I was offered the TAI CHI which, I was very curious as well. Once again the instructor was soo friendly kind and very helpful taking us through the sessions. I was soo happy anytime I go to these sessions that I decided to continue doing all the slots I was offered.
My last session was the MINDFULNESS which I was told was very popular and I have to be on waiting list. I was therefore surprised when after about two weeks of booking the course I was offered a place. Once again the instructor was a kind person who took her time to help me to overcome some of my worries through mindfulness meditation.
I have to say that my experiences with MY CANCER MY CHOICES has been very rewarding and I would recommend anyone who is recovering from cancer treatments.
All these courses I took has helped me in different ways to overcome those difficult times in my life.
Lisa – Lead Clinical Nurse Specialist, Berkshire Cancer Centre
They have been a vital part of my patient’s recovery and make a huge difference to people’s anxiety and stress levels and they can also help with certain side effects of treatment. I have found the service to be particularly beneficial to patients with on-going peripheral neuropathy and hot flushes. They complement our treatments so well and are safe for patients.
I have also had my own experience with the service with a mixture of massage, acupuncture and most recently acupressure.
During the pandemic I found myself getting increasingly anxious, not sleeping and stressed which left my body feeling achy and tense. I had a few online sessions with one of the lovely therapists and I feel so much better. I was given simple but effective exercises to do at home but which can also be used when at work that make such a big difference and nobody else will notice! I can’t recommend them enough. The whole team are fantastic and just make everyone they encounter feel so much better. They are all warm, kind, non-judgmental and experienced in dealing with people living with and beyond cancer so there is nothing that couldn’t be shared with them. If you get the chance to have some treatments, I highly suggest you go for it and you’ll be glad you did!
I applied to take part and at my initial interview to see if I was a suitable candidate, I realised that I was very angry about my cancer and lymphoedema”.
Fortunately, I was accepted on the course. I did not realise that this was the first Mindfulness Course that MCMC had run so it was a wonderful induction to the charity. I found the course hard to start with but gradually realised what a huge help it was to me.
One of my aims after cancer was to volunteer for a small cancer charity and MCMC was my choice so I applied. Everything else fell into place – I was interviewed and accepted. I have now been with the charity as a Meeter Greeter since the latter half of 2015. An MG is someone who volunteers on a specific day to meet the patients, book appointments, make and take phone calls and generally ensure that everyone is happy. I volunteer at Bracknell Health Space.
I love talking to the patients either on the phone or face to face – I have an inkling of what they are going through on their cancer pathway. MCMC gives lots of training when we can meet other MGs and therapists from all the locations. We are all made to feel very welcome.
Everyone who either works or volunteers for MCMC are inspirational and part of one big family. I can honestly say how happy I am to be volunteering for such a worthwhile cause.
“My name is Sev.
On the 10th of July 2020, my oncologist confirmed that treatment has been a success. It has been a long 18 months journey since my breast cancer diagnosis– neoadjuvant chemo, mastectomy, corrective surgery, radiotherapy and 15 rounds of targeted therapy drug”.
It was during an appointment for the latter that I was first introduced to My Cancer My Choices.
Cancer treatment takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions. That day, I remember feeling quite overwhelmed and rather hopeless at not being able to function properly, like I used to. I was also dreading the side effects of the drug, the aches, the lost of appetite, the disturbed sleep pattern, the fatigue as well as the chemo fog. I must have sounded very unconvincing when I told the nurse it will pass, I will be ok, for she decided to take me to the My Cancer My Choices office along the corridor so I could seek help coping with the life changing cancer experience.
It was a Tuesday. Two days later I was back in Bracknell for my first therapy session. The journey to recovery is long and not always smooth, there are distressing days when you grieve the before and apprehend the after.
Acupuncture was a revelation, it had such a soothing effect and helped with the healing process on down days. I benefited from the acupuncturists attentiveness and expertise during the 6 sessions ( including 2 complimentary) I had, focusing on a specific area of concern each time.
The team of volunteers at My Cancer My Choices are incredibly understanding, caring and always willing to help in time of need.
During a progress review, my oncologist praised them and their holistic approach when I told him that I had enrolled on a 8 weeks mindfulness for health course. My Cancer My choices has offered me tools, resources and strategies to help focus on the small steps when the way through was unimaginable.
Their caring and compassionate volunteers, their knowledgeable staff have been an invaluable support to me during challenging times, treatment but now also covid-19.
I will be forever grateful for the whole team who went above and beyond to ensure my journey was as comfortable as it could be.
As soon as the consultant said “I’m sorry, you have breast cancer”, I could feel the eyes in the room on me…the breast care nurse as she sat at a respectful distance looking at me, having had prior knowledge of the news that was delivered and those of the consultant as he maintained eye contact to check I’d understood. I had expected the diagnosis and I think my calm manner took the team slightly by surprise. My time with the consultant was relatively quick and I shook his hand, thanked him and was escorted to a more comfortable room where the breast care nurse would spend some time talking me through what would happen next. She told me it was ok to cry – I didn’t – and I came away with pamphlets and not much of a clue about much else…too many unknowns.
I sat in my car and rang my husband to deliver the news I’d expected but he’d thought or hoped wouldn’t come. I then called my parents and told my in-laws the news. Everyone wanted answers I couldn’t give and I felt terrible. The only time I cried was at the thought of telling my kids – they’re old enough to understand the implications and I didn’t want them to be afraid.
The next few weeks were well and truly purgatory. I assumed I’d have an action plan within days; completely underestimating the range of tests and appointments I’d have before a plan was drawn up. If I’m honest, I found some of the tests incredibly traumatic and living with the ‘unknown’ was a surreal nightmare for a control-freak like me. It was a relief when finally I was told the type of breast cancer and the recommended treatment. Don’t be fooled, there is no ‘good’ cancer to have and mine was particularly aggressive. I quickly learnt never to Google anything! I had unwittingly got the BOGOF (buy-one-get-one-free) deal with what was expected to be three tumours but turned out, thankfully, to be just two. It was reassuring to have a plan and I opted for surgery first as I didn’t want to be ill over Christmas. I also decided not to tell everyone, so family could enjoy Christmas without the inevitable fear cancer brings.
In the New Year came extensive chemo and radiotherapy. I was well and truly on the conveyor belt of appointments, blood tests, appointments, blood tests, scans….Every medical professional I met treated me with such kindness and patience, but I really did feel like a ‘cancer patient’ in everyone’s eyes – which, of course, I was.
I’d been warned I’d lose my hair (the cold cap wasn’t suitable for me) and it was then I realised that the only thing about this whole situation I could control, was the way I dealt with it. Personally I don’t believe in the adage that everything happens for a reason, but I am a big believer in that you can turn bad situations into good. Through a good friend I was aware of My Cancer My Choices, and my brother had already done some fundraising for them. As I found out more about the charity, I decided that I would get sponsorship to shave my head and turn the inevitable hair loss into something positive for them.
Even though it was expected, it was still a shock to be in the shower and see my hair coming out in handfuls. No one warns you that your head gets sore and tingly as the hair gets ready to fall out, so it was quite a relief to get to the ‘big shave’ and have my husband, children and friend there supporting me. Family, friends and colleagues had sponsored me incredible amounts and everyone’s goodwill really carried me. It was very empowering to take the decision to shave my head and raise money for such a good cause. For me it was important as I didn’t feel like a victim of cancer.
Through the treatment, my body was getting an incredible battering and there is a weird gratitude for this as of course it’s getting rid of the cancer but I found that it wasn’t just my body getting hammered, my mind was at risk too. This is where My Cancer My Choices really came in to their own. I had an incredible aromatherapy massage which made me feel like I was floating on air! I didn’t feel like a cancer patient during the session, I felt like Claire again! I also tried Mindfulness and Tai’Chi. All things I’d never have made time for before becoming ill, but all things that made me feel like a stronger version of myself, which helped me tackle my medical treatments head-on.
That’s what I really value about My Cancer My Choices – their treatments not only complement the every-day medical care, but pamper your body and soul so you come away feeling incredible – even on the hardest of days. I am very fortunate and grateful to have benefitted from the services the charity offers. I am blown away by the kindness of the whole team, who give up their time to focus on the well-being of others – thank you all. To the supporters of the charity – please keep doing what you’re doing…it makes such a massive difference to patients in the area.
Sincerely, thank you. Claire
Jane L, Former breast cancer patient
“In October 2017 I was called for my 3 yearly breast cancer mammogram, and I remember rushing to the appointment at the mobile unit in a Sports Centre car park as I was so busy with things to do that day. Not long afterwards, after more tests, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Over the course of 2018, led by a wonderful team of medical staff I had 3 operations, chemotherapy and finally radiotherapy. In January 2019 I had my last appointment with my oncologist and walked out of the hospital, but before she said goodbye my oncologist told me about My Cancer My Choices.
I have found that it’s a difficult time finishing treatment, the structure of your life changes and I was left totally exhausted with ongoing physical issues such as neuropathy in my leg and foot. After a few weeks I contacted My Cancer My Choices and I spoke to a really friendly member of the team who suggested reflexology. I have loved my appointments – it’s a big thing when a professional touches you and it isn’t part of cancer treatment. They’ve also given me a chance to discuss any problems with someone experienced in post cancer issues and I have left each session feeling less anxious and more rested. After a year of disrupted sleep, I am finally sleeping much better again. Thank you to all at My Cancer, My Choices you have been an important part of my beginning to move forward.
Peter, living with prostate cancer
Here’ is Peter’s story, in his own words. One’s introduction to advanced prostate cancer will be different for each of us as it occurs. I shall only say that when it was diagnosed for me it came as a shock as I had no idea that I had actually been through simple prostate cancer. However, the super staff at Berkshire’s cancer clinic consoled me by saying that I was a prime candidate for hormone treatment which wouldn’t cure anything but stopping my system making testosterone should stop the cancers growing for some considerable time. (At age 85 even 6 months seems considerable but they were talking something into years).
The booklet I was given on living with the hormone treatment was very clear about everything including the side effects so I was not surprised to find myself experiencing ‘hot flushes’ among one or two other minor problems. The hot flushes soon became a major problem as they occurred very frequently, some days I had them hourly and they were embarrassingly severe. A clinic nurse suggested I contacted “My Cancer My Choices” to see if acupuncture would help, I was told that the results of acupuncture were very helpful to at least 50% of those who try it.
In my 85 years I had had no experience of the procedure and to be honest, I harboured some considerable doubts. I have now had four treatments, each process lasting an hour including some detailed discussions and in three of the four I fell asleep for 15/20 minutes. There was a marked change in the frequency and severity of the hot flushes after the first process and right now, I feel disappointed if I have more than 2 bouts per day (and a quick dab with a handkerchief hides all the evidence). I am not sure how many treatments I will need but as I write there has been a 19 day gap since the last procedure and I have not noticed any drop off of the effectiveness. If things stay as they are I shall be a very happy patient.[
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