My name is J and I am 26, I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (t-cell) when I was 8 years old.
At the time it was very much a situation of having to just soldier on and treat my cancer as a normal part of childhood but what I hadn’t realised was how much of a strain it had on my mind and body. After 3 years of treatment, I’d expected to get better and be just the same as my friends, but my post cancer treatment fatigue and my changed body meant that I’d still be different. It was difficult for me to process that I was no longer the same person and I developed various mental illnesses including anxiety and an eating disorder. I tried to access help many times from various services, but I realised pretty quickly that there was little understanding of my cancer experience, and many professionals just couldn’t understand why I would feel so terrible in and about myself because I was a survivor and that was something to celebrate.
The pandemic came around and the amount of trauma I experienced during treatment really came to light. I had severe flashbacks from the smell of hand sanitiser, nightmares where I was back on the operating table. The isolation of being in the shielding programme took me back to that place of having to be so frightened and careful of interaction and being bed bound in the same hospital room for weeks.
I felt so much joy when Mind Over Cancer contacted me and I knew I’d be able to speak to people with an understanding of my circumstances. Susie and Theresa taught me so much and enabled me to let the traumatised child in me come to terms with what happened. Since my 1-2-1 sessions with them ended I’ve been involved in their support group where I can speak to lovely people with similar experiences, and I feel so much less weird and alone.
I am more prepared to face to world since the support of Mind Over Cancer and infinitely more confident too. I can safely say that they have provided all the tools I need to face my demons head on.