I was originally diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 at the age of 31. With a 2 year old and plans to expand my family this came as a devastating shock. After going through surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy I started to re-build my life. I was training for the marathon, eating healthily and was determined to carry on as before. But in the summer of 2013 I had severe back pain and was soon told that the cancer had returned and that there were metastases in my spine and liver. I was terrified and could not see a way out of the dark place I had entered. I was only 32 and was having to contemplate not seeing my little girl grow up. I was in hospital struggling with the new information, fearing the worst and feeling so alone. A good friend made sure that she was there on the phone every morning and evening when my husband was not at the hospital. She told me just to breathe "I am breathing in and I am breathing out". It sounds simple but it helped so much with the constant anxiety and fear. Through my friend, and the Bosom Buds of Scotland charity, I found out about mindfulness . I went along to Tina's class fearing that I would not be able to do it and that I would need to face fears that would simply overwhelm me. I came from a scientific background and was used to dealing with definite facts and this was so far from any experience I had before. In the class I felt safe from day one, knowing that I was with people who were having similar experiences to me and that I did not have to expose my deepest darkest fears if I wasn't comfortable doing so. The first meditation was difficult, but I knew that this was something that could really help. To say it's been life changing is an understatement, I am able better able to cope with the diagnosis of stage IV cancer - there are days when I still get scared, but now I have the techniques to deal with the anxiety. I meditate at least once a day and use it for when I have appointments. The relationships within my life have improved and I am happy. I value the continued support both from Tina who runs the classes as well as from new friends who practice with me.
Feedback from Mindfulness Meditation for people with cancer
Did you enjoy the course and if so please explain why?
“I enjoyed it immensely. It has improved my life so much; my coping strategies and general wellbeing have been enriched. I have learned so much about myself during the course which has enabled me to be kinder to myself”
“It was good to learn ways of enabling you to deal with the stresses and strains which can sometimes overtake us”
“Yes I found that I wasn’t alone. People were in the same boat as myself (anxieties)
“Yes because it helped me to become calmer and to take a step back to observe life and my reactions to it”
“By the end of the course I felt like a different person. I learned to be kind to myself more and the other ladies there were lovely. I learned to make time for myself”.
What part of the course was most helpful /beneficial?
“The meditation practices are easy to use in daily life. The psychological aspects are hugely helpful in coping and changing how I cope / deal with situations and the group aspect has been so therapeutic, it is just all fantastic!”
“Learning the practice of mindfulness and sitting peacefully in the present moment”
“The meditation. The calming effect in situations of difficulty. Being kind to oneself”
“The breathing exercises and the awareness exercises”
“All of it was equally beneficial”
Has the course changed you in any way?
“I have a clearer picture of who I am and how I am. I touch base with myself and am able to cope much better in stressful situations, such as progression of illness, anxiety related to tests and everyday stresses related to myself and my family. I am calmer as a person all of the time. I am able to use techniques to further calm myself. I live in the moment as often as possible”
“Yes. I feel I am more tolerant and more patient with myself and others”
“I am more aware of things going on in my mind and in my body. I think about things differently and take more enjoyment from everyday happenings”
“Before going on the course I felt very down. Now I feel more positive about myself and my future”.
How did you find the guided practices?
“They were extremely useful-essential. It is so much easier to do these practices under guidance till we find a way of fitting it into our lives. It is a discipline and to make time for the class in the first step…which leads us to making time in our everyday lives for the practices”
“Enlightening and very useful”
“Very helpful indeed”
“Very well done. Easy to understand”
How did you find the group discussions?
“Very helpful and at times emotional. Hearing others stories helped me cope with my situation in terms of compassion for others and myself. Invaluable”
“It was good to have interaction and hear other peoples views and there was a lot of humour”
“Extremely helpful in airing our own experience and sharing these. They enable us to share far more of our own intimate thoughts and feelings which brings comfort and support.
Lively, I think everyone enjoyed them. Lots of feedback”
“Very helpful. Our group seemed to be able to open up to each other which was nice”
Any suggestions / comments you would like to make?
“I think this class is essential in coping with my illness and life generally. This class has enabled me to be kinder to myself and in turn be kinder to others. I am very fortunate to be part of this course as it has impacted on every part of my life with those around me commenting regularly on the changes they see in me – ALWAYS POSITIVE ONES! My only suggestion is that the course be made more readily available”
“It was good to have an environment where we could express ourselves and know that it was confidential”
This is an excellent course that will help a lot of people in difficult times”
“Make it longer”