Feature: One woman’s tale of living with the legacy of cancer

Wendy Thomas
Wendy Thomas

A HAILSHAM mother-of-three is supporting Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Talk Week.

Cancer Talk Week this year is encouraging people affected by cancer to talk about how it affects their relationships with partners, family and friends.

Wendy Thomas, who is 46, was diagnosed with primary breast cancer in 2004 and secondary breast cancer in 2009.

“When I was first diagnosed I had three young children including a 10-month-old baby.

“So it was a very stressful time for my husband as he had to step up and take care of the children while I was having my treatment and recovering from each round of chemo,” said Wendy.

“Friends and family helped and after my first cancer, we decided to move from London to Eastbourne, partly because I had a new outlook on life after what had happened to me.

“I wanted to change a few things, to be close to the sea and live a better life.

“But I was knocked for six when in 2009 it came back. They told me that it is not curable, that they will just manage it.

“It was at this point that we got involved in the Macmillan counselling service in Eastbourne.

“My husband and I went along together to meet Karen from the service.

“My husband was very worried that he would be left to bring up three children alone and he didn’t want to burden me with his fears.

“During my treatment, my husband and I reached a pretty desperate stage. We just weren’t meeting up on an emotional level.

“It helped to be able to discuss with my Macmillan counsellor what I’d shared with my husband.

“It was clearly a difficult time, but we’ve finally met together on the same level.

“The diagnosis of secondary cancer made me re-evaluate my life, made me wonder what it had all been about.

“The counselling was a fantastic way to sort out my thoughts.

“It sounds like a cliché but if Macmillan hadn’t been there for me in Eastbourne, then I think I would have had no choice but to go to my GP for anti-depressant medication, which I didn’t want to take.

“It has been invaluable.”

Macmillan is highlighting the support available to those who feel they have no one to turn to during Cancer Talk Week.

The charity has a support line 0808 8080000 with trained professionals and the online community allows people to talk to others going through the same experiences.

Cathryn Gort, lead cancer information specialist, said, “It is important that, when going through something tough, like a cancer diagnosis and treatment, you can speak openly about what you’re going through to ensure you get the right support you need.

“We meet a lot of patients and people caring for someone with cancer who feels like they need to be ‘strong’ and bottle up their emotions.

“This causes great strain on relationships.

“If anyone does want to talk to someone impartial or wants advice on how to talk to their friends and family, the Macmillan team can always help.”