Letter from a Survivor

A letter from a participant from Survive and Thrive


First of all, I would like to say many thanks to the amazing facilitators and nurses for your time and commitment to this programme and to know it makes such a difference.

I sat watching the concert for cancer by the Marie Keating Foundation and felt like it was placed that day. I was at a stage of feeling lost mentally, emotionally and physically. Unsure what was next to come. Some might say stuck in limbo. I have always been the strong one. The one who holds it all together.

When I first got diagnosed with breast cancer, my first instinct was to look after everyone else. Make sure they were all coping and put on the brave face but inside I was terrified. As time was passing, I was starting to crumble. I felt my confidence was fading.  I wasn’t sleeping. I was frustrated with my progress, losing my independence and my physicality. I became angry as to why once I’ve been operated on, I was offered no support mentality.  I emailed Helen Forristal, the Marie Keating Foundation’s Director of Nursing, reluctantly while thinking I don’t qualify for this program what am I thinking!

When Helen called me, I explained how I was feeling and even said if someone needs this more than me give them the place. She said your more than welcome to join we would love to have you. When the first night came round, I was terrified of having to talk to strangers about how I am feeling and thinking. As it was on Zoom, I thought how could we connect not being near each other physically. I had no reason to be fretting at all. It was a brilliant evening with some amazing women. Helen, Yvonne and Marie made this group welcoming and easy to open up in.

Throughout the six weeks we talked, laughed and we cried. We shared top tips, experiences, we encouraged each other on the low days and gave each other hope. The survive and thrive program has thought me many things especially in regards to taking back control. It provided me with the tools to self-manage my health mentally and physically. To problem solve to ask questions and to feel it was normal having all these feelings and emotions. The action plans were a great way to get me motivated each week. It was full of honesty and respect. Most of all it gave me three hours each week to focus on me and express myself in a safe environment.

I feel it is something that is missing and should be part of an aftercare with a diagnosis. No one should feel they have no support and I would encourage anyone to just give it a try. Even if you feel it’s not for you , you may be the one person that could reach out to another to help them on their journey. I have made some amazing friends from this group who I will keep in touch with. They gave me their time and support. It was the best decision I made sending that email that evening.