I thought I would spend a moment explaining about counselling and why our services are such a lifeline for a person who has been diagnosed with melanoma or affected by another person’s diagnosis.
We’ve all seen the advert on TV, when the specialist delivers the scariest news anyone could ever expect to receive- “You (or your loved one) has cancer.” On the advert the room goes hazy, the chair moves backwards in the room and there is no sound coming from the consultants mouth (although he is clearly talking). That is a pretty accurate depiction of how it is for most cancer patients when receiving the diagnosis everyone dreads. Then comes the aftermath, when everything is broken up into tiny chunks and examinations take place. It is so important that you listen, but your head is spinning and you’re just not taking anything in.
What about prior to this, when entering the hospital for the last time as a ‘free’ person? Because moving forward into the future, this venture will always retraumatise you and take you back to that fearful place. As a lovely friend of mine described her visit to the hospital that evening to get her diagnosis;
” I remember the day ever so clearly, I was on Duty all day and got cover from 3pm to attend apt at St Helens at 4:30, came home picked Ste up, I drove to Hospital as needed to keep my mind busy, playing James La Petit Mort loudly.. Parked up at the hospital and sat looking at hospital, I told Ste if we stay here and don’t go in, we will stay on this side of it, he shit himself I think he thought I was gonna drive off!”
This statement was particularly poignant for me as I recalled my own appointment at the hospital, somewhat bemused and inappropriately confident that it was unlikely to be cancer and even if it was, its only skin cancer… Right? Had we went with our instincts and ran as Anthea describes so vividly, then we wouldn’t have to step on this rickety old roller-coaster that would throw us about and even tip or world upside down.
Of course that wasn’t an option and we boarded them creaky wooden steps preparing ourselves for the craziest journey of our lives. But who wants to get on this precarious ride alone?
This is where counselling and support comes into play and why Melanoma-Me provides such a unique service. Imagine cowering in the corner after experiencing some heavy blows and knowing that you have to fight, but you just have no fight in you. You are tending to your wounds and having some of the most existential moments. You came into this world on your own and now you have to fight this battle without any army. Your loved ones are going through their own journey, so you make a conscious effort not to burden them with your process and likewise they’re feeling the same. Counselling is the hand that pulls you up and the voice that explains to you ” I wont change your physical experience, but I will meet you exactly where you are and I will walk with you.” Sometimes this little bit of extra can be an absolute lifeline.
Then comes the summer, the fear of the once beloved sun… and the grief over the relationship you once had with it and the life you used to live.
The crippling anxiety, the worry that every mole is a threat, the constant checking of lymph nodes and the waiting…results, appointments, scans, biopsies and sometimes just the waiting.
Scan day comes along and then the results come, many people live from scan to scan with very much short lived relief between.
We have worked with over 200 people over the last 3.5 years and have held people through their darkest moments, as well as diagnosis and living with melanoma and all it brings, we have supported people through the loss of their loved ones. We have seen friendships flourish, through groups and events and we have seen loneliness reduced diminished.
We are so proud of our team of counsellors… Julie, Fay, Rachel S, Rachel C, Helen, Kerry! They have made the world of difference to people and their lives and helped them to adapt to a new way of living.
We have spaces for people wishing to access counselling, either face to face or over the telephone – no waiting lists and all we ask is a minimum donation of £5 for the charity.
Thankyou for reading. Kerry x