26 November 2021 – Hope Course

Due to my wobble, MacMillan called and recommended I try the two day HOPE course. I was reluctant, it meant sitting in a room with other survivors and being all open. I wanted to know more people who had treatment – but I also didn’t want to be forced to be open or to make friends.

I went in with a right cob on, I did not want to be there – work were brilliant and let me take the days to go. There were four people, two breast cancer survivors, one prostate and three members from MacMillan. The first session was about ways forward, eating, drinking the right stuff, exercising, and we had to do some group exercises, which we managed between the four of us, I think it was meant to make us open up in advance of session two. That’s the heavy one, the what’s the point in life, how to move forward, intimacy. We talked everything from career and money woes, physical impairments post operation/ treatment, how that impacts daily life, and the embarrassing one – love life. We all went a bit quiet about this but I did talk about trying to date and giving up post treatment, my dating life is like a case book of human detritus, my ex even said he would ‘pray for me’ when he found out I was diagnosed, two months earlier he professed I was the one. It was interesting the course, I mean cancer – it’s terrible but WOW they have services.

I now have a little card that permits me to go to any toilet in any store, even if they aren’t open to the public – it’s like having an FBI/ COP badge but shitter (get it). There are services for breast cancer survivors to get more respectful lingerie to spice up their bedroom antics, free Lube (yep – sorry mum, god I had fun when they announced that), I went in to some Lube swansong, much to the bemusement of the other attendees. There are also other courses, Look Good Feel Better (grooming/make up class both open to men and women with free make up), cancer survivor exercise classes, Nordic walking groups,  art groups. It’s astonishing – all charities – there are so many angels on earth.

Crab kite on Minchinhampton common (nearest photo to the Lube theme i could find)

So as much as I didn’t want to go, I learnt I got away with this a little easier than my fellow Hope Course Buddies – mastectomies, HRT, lymphedemas, catheters, weight gain/ weight loss, and a general greying of life. It was cathartic, an open space to rant, rave, cry and also laugh (free LUBE). The best thing is that I meet the girls now for coffee and cake, cancer friends – it’s nice to have friends who get it. Like my friend from school who was diagnosed, not spoken in 20+ years, but now we regularly check in and can talk about anything – who knew cancer could be a bonding experience – Covid took that away during treatment.

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