'Talking helps healing after a cancer diagnosis'

By Brenda McCormick, Wednesday, 11th May 2016 | 0 comments

Mary Nelis from Drogheda is doing the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon in aid of the Gary Kelly Cancer Support Centre, and has some advice for others battling cancer. 

In 2013 I found a lump in my breast and did nothing about it for 10 days, hoping it would just go away, but it didn’t. I eventually went to my doctor who referred me for a mammogram and biopsy and I then had to wait a week for the results. I didn’t tell anyone, and it was very difficult for my husband and daughter. They had no one to speak to and I feel as a result they had no support.

I was diagnosed in October and had breast surgery in November 2013, followed by chemo and radium in 2014. I had chemo every third Friday, and Monday to Friday I had radium treatment. My husband Anthony took five weeks off work to bring me to and from the hospital every day.  This was because I didn’t want anyone to know about my diagnosis and we kept it to ourselves. Now I would strongly recommend to anyone in the same situation to be open and talk to his or her family and friends. Accept any offers of help and support especially as it’s very difficult on partners and family. 

After having gone through all my treatment and surgery I found once I started on the medication I suddenly became very distressed and upset and needed to talk to someone. Initially I phoned the Gary Kelly Cancer Support Centre in Drogheda and was given an appointment (although you don’t need an appoint to drop-in). I can laugh at this behaviour now but at the time I insisted that no one should see me coming and going to the centre. I used to ring the doorbell and be ushered into the first room on the left hand side of the hallway, and when finished the therapist had to check the hallway was clear and I was ushered back out again.

This behaviour continued for some weeks until one day I realised I could face meeting people in the centre. I spoke to a counselor who got me to open up about my cancer and then I was able to attend support groups/workshops and avail of reflexology, massage, and relaxation classes. I loved the art therapy in particular. There are so many lectures, programmes and complementary therapies on offer; there is something for everyone.

I found the counseling and just chatting to others in the centre to be very helpful. It was a learning process as well, particularly learning how others dealt with their situation and diagnosis.

I’m doing very well now and I still attend the centre and enjoy the many talks and the banter. I am taking part in this year’s Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon and am looking forward to the great day out and especially the after party! I’m hoping raise awareness of the Gary Kelly Cancer Support Centre and the great work it does. Any money raised at the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon will keep the centre’s front door open, as they do not receive government funding.