Patient Stories

Philippa Drew
I felt a small lump in the side of my left breast. I hadn’t been very conscientious in examining my breasts and wasn’t due
a mammogram for 18 months. I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy and then a node clearance. The outlook was good. The risk analysis showed that neither chemotherapy nor radiotherapy would significantly improve my (statistical) survival rate and drug therapy only marginally. So I was lucky. But I felt pretty gutted by the whole experience – nothing to do with the wonderful way I was looked after by the Charing Cross Hospital- but everything to do with my fears, my sense of mutilation, of being unlovable,
of having had this thing growing inside me without my knowledge.

I was a sceptic about complementary therapies – “what could they do for me?” I thought.
So I signed on at Cancerkin for my free therapies somewhat tentatively. I could not
have been more wrong. I have had acupuncture, massage, and reflexology and I have experienced Look Good…Feel Better and been to many Patient Support Groups. These experiences have changed my mind.

I had not realised how the concentration of a therapist’s attention on just me (for an hour,
in a quiet, relaxing room, where I have to do nothing) would be a transforming experience. And then there is the therapy itself – the sense of release of pain or stiffness or tension which it brings. All this gave me confidence and helped me to feel that I could be my usual self. Look Good…Feel Better I approached with a lot of questions to myself as I haven’t worn makeup for 40 years. Again, I came away uplifted, genuinely feeling good, not just about myself but about the joy, laughter, pleasure that the session gave to all the other women who came. One was brought in a wheel chair from the ward. She loved the whole experience and positively glowed with happiness.

The Patient Support Groups have given me, first, information from the many speakers
who have covered a range of relevant and interesting topics including developments in the treatment of cancer, diet and nutrition, how to relax. But it hasn’t been just the speakers. I have learned a lot from other patients which has been helpful in making me feel less alone and more comforted.

All in all I owe Cancerkin a lot, without its support I doubt that I would be as positive
and cheerful about my breast cancer and my life in general as I am.