18 February 2016
Two years on from being diagnosed with breast cancer, Fiona Terrins is looking to the future, thanks to a Macmillan Cancer Support self management course.
After she finished her treatment, Fiona spotted an advertisement for the Hope programme, designed to help people affected by cancer. It offers a chance to meet other patients and share experiences. HOPE stands for “helping overcome problems effectively”.
Almost a year had passed since her diagnosis and Fiona says the course couldn’t have started at a better time for her:
“I was already well on the road to recovery. I was singing in two local choirs twice a week but this was an opportunity to mix with people like me.
“Some people were just starting treatment. Others had finished. We were all different ages and from different backgrounds but we all had one thing in common: cancer.
“There was no ‘putting on a brave face’ to protect our families. We could all open up and have conversations we simply couldn’t have had at home. It was an opportunity to open up and be honest with yourself.
Fiona had been for a routine mammogram in 2012 but, twelve months later, had found a lump. Tests revealed she had developed a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer which required surgery, followed by gruelling sessions of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
The 54-year-old working mum says: “I was totally stressed out. I was a single mother with a son sitting A’Levels and my full time job felt like a seven-day-week commitment, not five. That’s fine when you have lots of energy, like I used to, but that was the first thing I lost. Energy.
“I decided to leave work. And, now that I’m back to my old self, I think it was the right decision. I’ve had some job offers but I’m looking for something that’s right for me now. I’m looking after myself.”
“Most of the group on our Hope course have stayed in touch and I’m now in the process of ringing everyone to arrange a get together. Not a support group – that’s not for me. It’s a catch up with friends.”
Macmillan is running a special one-day Hope session on March 11th , starting at 10am in the Macmillan Information and Support Centre at Belfast City Hospital. To sign up, or find out more, contact Julie Hill via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone the Macmillan Belfast office on: 028 9070 8610.