After my chat with the lovely Focus Centre, it was time to get me mentally prepared for chemo. If honest, I was getting really pissed off with the communication, it was all really negative, every discussion was worst case scenarios about symptoms and emergency protocols, surely it’s manageable? HA! God I’m stupid….
The reason the medical teams were informing me about all this was to help get me prepared, where I suppose I was the equivalent of someone with their fingers in their ears denying that there would be any issues.
Either way subconsciously, I must have known. I emailed Maggie’s, the counselling centre to see if they were open and I had a call back within an hour.
Unfortunately for me, due to Covid (GRRRRR), counselling groups had been cancelled even online, so again an opportunity to connect with my fellow kind went out the window. But the lady on the phone was a trained Counsellor and offered me 1:1 counselling instead. I’m not going to go through the ins and outs of our chats, because that’s personal to me. But I organised weekly calls with her during my chemo and actually, it was a brilliant opportunity to rant/ rave/ cry and giggle with someone who knows cancer. She knew about my type of treatment, has experienced what others had gone through and had access to my oncology team when I felt desperate.
Maggie’s were my lifeline to vent, so my recommendation contains the following:
Tip 1: Please contact Maggie’s even if you are indirectly affected like a carer/ family member, they have so many services available to you and are just so kind on the phone. My meetings were via Zoom and were really accessible from home.
Tip 2: These services are free and, like MacMillan and everything else, if you start raising money one day remember these services also need funding but that they are an absolute life saver when you are at your lowest.
I also had a call that same day from the Citizens Advice Bureau thanks to the Focus Centre to discuss the uncomfortable issue of money. I explained my predicament and she told me about the benefits that might be available. Because I was working, I didn’t qualify for many, but I’d encourage you to have this discussion. She told me to check whether work or my mortgage had any additional insurances. She also gave me a really top tip – to contact my electricity/ gas supplier for better rates, as us cancer sufferers feel the cold more than others and I actually managed quite a substantial saving here.
I’m not going to go in to my predicament, but I will tell you that I have the best mortgage advisor in the world (Hansford Bell), and due to my sole mortgage status I have always been worried about what happens if I can’t work. Rest assured, we made a claim and she took all the pressure off me by completing application forms for me. I’m a very lucky woman to have this level of support, and the best bit, she has a dog – many a meme/ video/ photos going back and forth. It’s amazing how you make real connections with people you don’t know that well.
Tip 3: check your employment/ mortgage benefits for private health care, critical illness/ life cover etc. Call the Citizens Advice, links to pages relevant to finances are shown on the ‘further information’ page.