When James lost his husband following a cancer diagnosis during the covid pandemic, he was left emotionally bereft and unsure of where to turn.
When his grief, coupled with the isolation of lockdown, started to overwhelm him, he asked CancerCare for help. Here, in his own words, James describes what happened next...
"My experience with CancerCare started after my husband David (pictured right) was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer at the age of 44. The initial 12 to 18 month prognosis was more than a shock - it was a visceral punch in the gut.
"I got in touch with CancerCare to see if they could provide any help for David. They did, counselling to help him come to come to terms with his new reality and therapies to compliment his treatment.
"Offering me counselling too wasn’t expected or needed, I was fine, I had a strong support network... I was wrong. Cancer hits you hard and then it continues to pinch. It subtly twists you, changes your relationship and invades every aspect of your life. Like a pressure cooker this builds until you no longer recognise who you’ve become.
"That hour of time, of someone listening, not judging. Just accepting, allowed me to reset. To find some calm and continue with my new reality. Caring for my sick then dying husband. It made the difference between just surviving and being able to find some joy in tough times.
"When David died that support didn’t stop. CancerCare helped me to adjust to life without my partner and best friend. When Covid-19 struck my isolation was starkly highlighted. I couldn’t keep myself busy, I really was alone physically & mentally. Friends and family disappeared for a while, engrossed in their own fears and uncertainty. But CancerCare remembered to check in.
"I’ve finished counselling now. Life’s moving forward and I’m able to look back and see how essential that support was. I also know that if I wasn’t fine, if things changed, that support would still be there