If you have never seen a counselor before, it is sometimes hard to imagine what this will entail.
22 years ago I discovered I had breast cancer. I couldn’t believe it. I was 47 years old and felt as fit as a fiddle. But overnight my world turned upside down, as the whirlwind process of diagnosis, surgery and treatment immediately took my body over. I underwent a bi-lateral mastectomy followed by reconstruction. A period of convalescence followed, and finally my body recovered. Outwardly, it appeared that I was more or less back to normal. Family and friends heaved a sigh of relief, and I returned to work.
I got on with the business of living, and pushed the distress I had felt at losing both of my breasts, to the back of my mind. Angry feelings were replaced by a sense of gratitude; I had been given a second chance in life. My successful career continued, and I happily watched as my children, and then my grandchildren, developed and began to make their own mark on the world.
But then 7 years ago I felt something was emotionally wrong with me. I looked for reasons as to why I was increasingly distressed. I realised that for so many years I had de-pressed my emotions. I had pushed aside my personal feelings of grief at the loss of my breasts, and of my perceived diminished femininity. My emotions were compounded by a sense of sexual rejection, and for the first time in 15 years I found myself blaming cancer for my insecurity and depression. I knew I needed professional help to unravel my confusions.
The Cancer Counselling Trust was a phone call away. My first visit was reassuring. Sitting with a trained counselor my muddled emotions boiled up and bubbled over. I decided this was the therapeutic support I so badly needed. During the suggested course of counselling it was a relief to be able to finally open up, and to share my deepest and most personal problems.
The sessions gave me the opportunity to re-access my feelings, to make sense of them, and put them into perspective. My counselor was someone I could trust, more importantly she was outside the circle of my concerned close family, and worried friends. With her I felt no need to hold back or to spare my emotions. I was able to unburden, to let go, and after a period of time I was stronger. And finally, I felt a peace within myself again.