Before I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, I was a support worker for adults with learning difficulties. I had to stop when I got ill and when I came out the other side, I couldn’t return due to the after effects. I still wanted to do something, so I started working at Big C cancer charity, initially volunteering in the shop and now I’m employed as the Support and Information Officer at the Norwich centre.
Having been through something like that, I just wanted to do what I wanted to do and get on with it really. I found an Access to HE course in Counselling and I’m now studying for my Counselling degree. I’m really enjoying it; I’m learning to listen that bit better and not to be directive with people. I think because you want to help someone, you often try to rescue or direct them, as opposed to encouraging them to direct themselves.
Everyone’s really friendly and approachable here and it doesn’t feel like a hospital. We have a garden and different relaxation rooms, as well as counsellors and complementary therapies. I didn’t want to come back to the Big C initially, because of the reminders, but two years on, I was ready and I felt I could offer a lot more with the counselling skills I’m gaining. It is tough at times; you help everyone from those with an early diagnosis to terminal cancer as well as friends and family.
It’s so important to talk about this, especially at the moment as cervical cancer screenings are at an all-time low. It’s really not that bad, so please don’t be afraid of going. I kept up with mine and I still ended up in this position, but if I hadn’t attended, it could have been worse.
Mental health is so important right now and there are so many support services out there. Never be afraid to ask for help. In terms of returning to studying, I would recommend it to anyone; my course is so diverse. Just go for it, give it a try!