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Rebecca's story – my way to live with cancer is knowing my family have somewhere to come

Thursday 01 Jun 2023

Maggie's Yorkshire


Rebecca was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2020. Here, she tells us how Maggie's became a home from home for the whole family during lockdown. And now she's looking forward to life with her family moving in the right direction.


I was working full-time in town planning, and hoping to progress my career.

My son Eric was two, and I was balancing the commitments of being a young mum with doing a Masters, while getting through the first lockdown like everyone else. 

I didn’t expect the diagnosis at all – and was at the hospital alone.

When I heard what he said, it just felt like my whole life was going to crumble. It was terrifying to think of all the unknowns. It’s the biggest fear I’ve ever felt in my life.  

As soon as I went into Maggie’s, it was just an instant trust, and I am the most socially awkward person ever. They were just so kind to me.

Almost straightaway, it felt like family, and it became a bit of a home from home. On day one they said I could use the space however I wanted – and it’s true. 

Treatment

We made the early decision to move back in with my parents.

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to look after my son.

I was also really aware that he was experiencing cancer as well, and I needed extra help to support him through it.

Early on it became really clear to me that the cancer wasn’t just about me, it was my family too. 

Over my treatment, I couldn’t go to a supermarket because I was completely shielding. But Maggie’s stayed open the entire time.

After every treatment, I was always there. And they've always welcomed me.

"If I wanted to talk, I could. When I’ve needed to cry, I have. And I have laughed there a lot as well. It’s a completely safe space that I was able to make my own."

When I look back on my treatment now, I can see that everything since my diagnosis has been positive.

The chemotherapy, as much as it was a scary thing, went well. My surgery was scary, but went well. And I'm now on the other side of my radiotherapy treatment. 

There for my whole family

It's hard for my mum to really share her true fears of the diagnosis, because she wants to be positive.

When I'm in those dark spaces, she wants to remain upbeat.

But she does need someone to share those fears with, and those scary thoughts. And if that can't be me, it needs to be somebody else.

ҹɫֱ was incredibly important, because it was a space for her to talk to somebody outside our family, and be honest and open about how she was really feeling.

My son Eric has also been experiencing cancer too, as much as I try to hide it from him. He knows I've been going to hospital and I've been unwell.

I started bringing him into Maggie’s after I noticed some of their toys in the corner. Now he thinks that ҹɫֱ is a hospital. And he loves the hospital. And he always wants to go to the hospital.

In the last year, he hasn't gone to playgrounds, he hasn't gone to nursery, because we’ve all been shielding. So for him to have had this space where he is welcome, and I feel safe, that he can associate as not scary or clinical – it’s so special.

Getting back to normal

Maggie’s was pretty much the only building other than home and the hospital that we visited during the pandemic.

Amanda and the team were the only people outside our immediate family who Eric could talk to.

"Without Maggie’s, I think in terms of my mental health, I wouldn’t be as strong as I feel now."

In turn, that’s moved me forward powerfully. I applied for a promotion and got it, I came back home, and I’ve started moving forward again.

There were many dark days after my diagnosis, and long periods of time where it felt like my life was uncertain. But it’s getting back to normal now. 

In the future, I know I’ll need to learn to cope with the fear of the cancer. I might not be able to ever get rid of that fear, but I might just be able to have the skills to manage it.

And to recover more of who I was before my diagnosis - without that constant fear in the back of my mind. Just get back to work, get back to family, family stuff and going out having the same level of energy and strength. That's what I'm looking forward to.


We're here for you

If you or someone you love has cancer, we are here with you.

Come and see us at your nearest Maggie’s, call us on 0300 123 180 or email us at enquiries@maggies.org.


Last review: Jun 2023 | Next review: Jan 2024

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