Shola on loneliness

Shola was in complete shock when she was diagnosed with thymoma, a tumour affecting the thymus gland in her chest in July 2013. 

Not having any family in London meant that she often had to attend appointments alone, which meant that she often felt very isolated.

Shola's story

After my diagnosis I just felt very alone because I don’t have a family here, I don’t have a partner or children. So although I had a friend with me, I was coming home alone to digest that information. So I felt very, very scared. And what about my prognosis, my life expectancy? There were so many questions that I wanted answered, but couldn’t get answers to at that time. I just needed to go away and process it.

My mum was waiting to find out the results and she’s from a generation that doesn’t really understand illness. She’s African and they come from a culture where they’re very secretive about diseases like cancer – it’s not something you talk about. So I couldn’t really engage with her about it.

I didn’t want to be a burden to anyone because my treatment was for seven, eight hours a day every three weeks. So people might pop in for 10, 15 minutes and it just heightens how alone you are when you’re going through your treatment. So it was difficult. 

My work colleagues would cook me nutritious food, sent me kind text messages and gave me words of comfort and hope which is what helped me get through some dark days.

On reflection there was a memorable moment when nearly all of my work colleagues and some friends came to see me in hospital three days post surgery I was really touched by that. People that I didn't expect to visit did.

Macmillan’s support did make me feel less alone and less isolated. I phoned Fiona my Welfare Rights Advisor on a couple of occasions when I had some concerns and she would always get back me at some point.

I always had that confidence that someone would be there to keep in contact and make sure that everything fell into place for me. It was good just to know that someone understood my financial situation and that I wasn’t alone. Macmillan couldn’t have done enough to be honest; they were very, very good.

The world without Macmillan would be a very lonely place. I’m not saying that there aren’t people living in isolation now, because there are, but there would be lot more people who would be very isolated without Macmillan.

I know that my recovery wouldn’t have been as quick without Macmillan’s involvement.

Watch: all about Shola's experiences

Watch: all about Shola's experiences