Elaine was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer which then spread very quickly to her whole skeleton when she was just 32. Now 34, Elaine is receiving support from Isabel Hospice.
“I’m a positive person and have fantastic family support, but my cancer diagnosis sent me into a spin. I just kept thinking about my 3 children, Harry (14), Oliver (8) and Maisy (6) and I spent the first 18 months worrying about everything, which I now see as a total waste of time,” said Elaine.
“But through the Isabel Hospice ‘Coping Well’ programme and the mindfulness that I did in the group there, I now feel strong and at peace. However, I must admit I wasn’t sure about it at first.”
“When I first walked into the room I was the only woman, there were a couple of men in their 40s and some much older men, my Dad’s age. I thought ‘how am I going to find a connection here?’ and when we were doing our breathing and relaxation exercises, I opened one eye to check they were really taking part! Inside I was laughing, thinking ‘really?!’ and when my husband, Danny, picked me up I said I wasn’t sure about doing back.”
“I did though, and over the weeks it was amazing. It made me realise that you don’t have to be the same age, sex or have the same diagnosis to connect with people. It was like we were meant to all be together, and the support we gave each other and got from each other was unbelievable.
“During the programme we covered topics that were really difficult to talk about, things I didn’t initially want to address, like how we felt about dying. Once I’d completed the course I was like another person. Before, I worried about everything, now I live for the moment. My mum phoned to say she had booked a family holiday to Butlins. Before I would have found every excuse not to go as I was worried about everything, but I said to Mum on the phone, ‘OK, great’. She was so shocked. In fact I feel such a change in my mental outlook that we have booked to go to Florida too.
“My pact with the Hospice is they will do everything they can for me, and I will keep a positive outlook. I want to set a good example to my kids, so if they ever have to go through something like this in their lives, they can look back on how Mummy coped.”
Impact on Elaine's family:
“One day I found a letter in Harry’s (14) school blazer. It was written by him, to himself about how frightened he felt about me dying. I was heartbroken and spoke to Isabel Hospice. He now sees Deborah, their Art Therapist. He made me an amazing silk scarf for Mother’s Day with her. He said he can talk to her about anything.”
“Oliver (8) was fine until I had my second mastectomy. He’s got a scientific mind and it confused him, that if I was having my magic medicine (chemo) why did I also have to have my breast removed? His schooling and friendships suffered and he started talking about me dying. Lori, my nurse at Isabel Hospice, referred us to Tracie, from the Hospice’s Children’s Services. It really helped. The second I needed the Hospice, they were there for my kids.”
“Now In my heart I’m not worried about my kids after I’ve gone. They have an amazing family, and they have Isabel Hospice, who are not strangers to them, and that makes a big difference.”