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In July 2016 my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and required multiple treatments including chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy. After initial assessments we found out that the tumour was large and treatment started two weeks after the diagnosis. At the time we were in such shock and so concerned for Mum's wellbeing that I don't think we had time to process what was really happening. It is only as the treatment has finished and Mum is getting back to full fitness that we have all sat back and really thought about the whirlwind that was the last 18 months.
We have been extremely lucky in our access to the Maggie's Centre at Nottingham City Hospital. Upon first entering the building we were greeted with nothing but warmth, and reassurance that it would get better, you just have to go through some really rubbish times first! At the time I was finishing my Masters degree and writing my dissertation, so when Mum had blood tests in between chemo sessions we would find a quiet room where she would have a rest and I'd get some paragraphs under my belt. This sort of respite from hard hospital chairs and waiting rooms was invaluable. As has been the advice since. Mum has attended workshops on hair-loss, 'Look Good Feel Better' and life after cancer. All of which have helped our family transition from treatment to creating the 'new normal'.
One of the key things I have learnt from our experience is that the disease is a horrid and nasty thing and there are doctors to help fight it, but for many there is not always the mental health support. Maggie's welcome you in when you are at your most confused and vulnerable and show you that you can be prepared for what is to come. They show you that you aren't facing this alone, which is something that needs to be said even if you have a strong support system at home. I feel that this should be something everyone has access to and so I am running a half-marathon to raise awareness of their work, and highlight just how brilliant they are!