Lets celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day!

On Sunday 1st June it is National Cancer Survivors Day, a chance for us to celebrate those who have survived, an inspiration for those diagnosed, a gathering of support for families and an outreach to the community.

We have three brave survivors, who are now all Primrose Volunteers,  who wish to share their stories with you. 

Our first story:

"I have a 'Yolk sac teratoma' at 17, it ruined my A-levels! Not that I think I would have done that well but while my classmates were sitting A-level Physics, I was starting Chemotherapy.

At 20 I had testicular cancer but it was caught early and got away with 'just' a testicular removal and replacement. At 28 I had a tumour in by abdomen, completely unrelated to the previous two episodes, and a relapse of this a year later. My first treatment and surgery was 1986 when I was 17. Then the surgery for testicular cancer was 1989 and the abdominal treatment was in 1996 and along with chemotherapy I had more surgery in 1997. 

My parents were devastated, no one expects to go through this with a an otherwise active teenager. They were mostly strong to my face but I could see the effect on them.
My friends were great, they rallied around, took the mickey out of my balding head and kept my spirits up. Some 'friends' did go quiet and not visit but most were more positive, I'm still friends with them all now 30 years later.

My cancer has changed my outlook on life. I never stayed down for long, I had dark days but kept looking for the next good thing - whether that was a good meal, a day out, or just getting out of hospital. A good, positive routine in life was essential for me, it was the invisible support that got me through I'm sure. 

My advice to everyone would be to live for today. Enjoy the good bits and remember to talk, keeping it in is ok sometimes but being able to share how you feel is very useful and can build friendships for life. Also, say 'yes' to things, its easy to isolate sometimes but to allow people, friends, to help where they can will make life easier"

Our second story:

"I was suffering from Lung Cancer which came as a complete surprise as I have never smoked. My treatment commenced in June 2012 when I had a lobectomy and the top lobe of my right lung was removed. I have subsequently had regular CT scan, blood tests and bronchoscopies to check that everything is still as it should be.

My immediate reaction was I am a little fighter and I am going to get better. I am naturally an upbeat person and continued to be positive. The family were understandably very upset and concerned but very much there for me. We obviously didn't know what the outcome would be but suddenly that one day came and we decided to make the house move we had always dreamed of and am now in our forever home.

The family were completely shocked at the news. This is never supposed to happen to their Mum, their wife, especially at the age of 48. The first few weeks after diagnosis are frightening. So many questions and yet no-one knows the full extent of the problem or the actual course of treatment that will follow. But help is there and the medical teams are well trained at guiding you through the maze of questions and unknowns which there inevitably are. Stick with it, be there for each other and share your concerns. It helps to make sense of the complete disbelief that has arrived with the diagnosis to such a close family member. Together is stronger.

The really true friends were there for me and helped keep my spirits up by visiting and keeping in touch.

I have always had the attitude of live for today!!! My cancer has made this more true, you never know what is going to happen so make the most of life. I encourage anyone to do what they want to do now cos you do not know what life is going to deal you. This includes encouraging my son with his motorbike racing, yes i worry but at least he is doing what he wants to do.

My outlook on life has stayed much the same because I am a positive person. If anything it has rubbed off more on my hubbie who was always a glass half full sort of man but he has seen how we have come through this and we are very proud to be able to plan for the future.

One piece of advice I would give is not to google about your condition. It can only worry you and those around you more. Another thing is take note of how you feel and if something is playing on your mind and seems different then go and get it checked out.

I believe that a positive mental attitude is very important and helps you through the illness.

A lot of people think that the Hospice is a place for very ill people to go. Before I was ill I thought that the Primrose Hospice was mainly the charity shops. How wrong could I have been. They helped me with counseling and massages to make me feel better whilst I was recovering. Because of this wonderful place I wanted to pay it back and am now a volunteer at the Hospice."

Our final story:

"I was operated on for breast cancer in the Alexandra Hospital Redditch in 1999. I went through chemo. and radio. treatment and recovered.

I now sing with the Primrose Choir as one way of saying 'thank you' for the care and expertise of the local cancer team."