Last night the clinic where I receive my treatment had a 'support evening', partly because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and partly because they have a load of woman in similar situations who, unlike NHS patients, never normally meet.
I entered the room late. Duur. Thought the start time was 7.30 and therefore, I was arriving early at 7.20pm. Ho hum. I got talking to my Breast Cancer Nurse who I have previously directed a lot of my rage at due to the inadequate support system in place for breast cancer patients. She was explaining the difference between acute and chronic illness. I'd previously tried to think of breast cancer as a chronic illness. We discussed the different terminology; acute, chronic, terminal, palliative (cheery huh?). I told her I felt acutely aware of my cancer. I'd love to put it back a stage and see it as just chronic. If anyone can suggest any coping strategies, they'd be gratefully received.
Meanwhile, as a group we were asked what we would like to get from the evening. We all agreed we needed more information on diet, excercise, constipation (yes, really), lingerie, libido, free prescriptions, employment law, parenting, stuff, stuff and more stuff. When we'd finished our list a lady in the middle put up her hand and said she started her treatment in the NHS and had received an information pack with a leaflet on every single thing we'd discussed. She was asked to bring this pack to her next treatment so the private health care peeps can offer similar support to the NHS. This is a step in the right direction.
There were between 30 and 40 of us. We seemed to be united by a need to help each other and other women (and men) coming through this devastating disease. We mostly had a sense of fun and equality in the group. I'd assumed I'd be the in the minority and one of the youngest; there were two 'elderly ladies' i.e. in their 70's. Then an even spread of ladies in their 50's and 60's. There were too many of us in our 40's. No. There were just too many of us.