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Jewish Health

Support & support groups

There are numerous support groups and organisations which provide help and assistance to people diagnosed with the conditions talked about on this site. Some of them have been set up specifically with Jewish people in mind. Others are national or international organisations without an emphasis on ethnicity. To see a list of website links for some of the organisations mentioned in this summary, visit the ‘resources’ section. A good place to find out about smaller local support groups that might not have their own website is through your doctor or nurse or your local library. Some organisations also operate telephone helplines that can provide information and a sympathetic listening ear.
 

David found the Myeloma UK helpline very helpful and felt he could talk to people about any...

David found the Myeloma UK helpline very helpful and felt he could talk to people about any...

Age at interview: 66
Sex: Male
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Well I’d certainly recommend the Myeloma UK Organisation which is brilliant which has done a tremendous amount in improving the lot of myeloma patients in this country. First of all, in negotiating with the National Institute for Clinical Excellent, is it, NICE? And as a result, largely of their negotiations, they have succeeded in persuading NICE to authorise two drugs; Velcade and Revlimid, neither of which was available a few years ago, but both of which are now said to be, well are major components in the fight against myeloma. And probably in years to come Velcade will be the treatment I’ll have next after the stem cell treatment whenever that comes around and then Revlimid is the next one which again was only authorised by NICE quite recently but it has found to be very effective in latter stages of myeloma.
 
And the Myeloma UK Organisation has done fantastic work in that. They’re also very, very supportive. They have a telephone number in Edinburgh you can phone up and talk to anybody about any aspect of it, and they’re very, very helpful. They also run support organisations around the country, and they also run conferences around the country. There’s one in London every year, and there are about a dozen around the country, at which they bring the latest technology and the latest experts to talk to people about developments in the world of myeloma.
 
 

Cissie finds it helpful talking to other people with Familial Dysautonomia.

Cissie finds it helpful talking to other people with Familial Dysautonomia.

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And I’m involved with the, with the society that’s here. The Familial … DSGB and I do have contact with a few people, a few of the sufferers as well. Either on the phone or we meet up occasionally.
 
And do you like that?
 
Yes. It’s okay. To begin with I wasn’t that keen on it, but now I am happy.
 
Why weren’t you so keen on it?
 
I don’t know. I just, I didn’t think that we… beside FD I didn’t think that we had much in common but we do help each other and talk to each other about what similarities we have and…. Things like that.
 
Is there much similarity?
 
Like our walking, scoliosis, pegs. They are similar but people, some of them are more independent than us, than me. They go travelling with a carer on planes, which I wouldn’t do. I’m not a very good flyer. And they’ve written books and things like that, which I haven’t done. Well I’m not planning to write anything. But there are different levels. FD varies from person to person. Sometimes people have more chest problems or spine problems than other people. 
 
People differed greatly in their views and experiences of support groups. Several people were vaguely aware of a support group for their condition but had never made contact. One man with Crohn’s disease was very clear that he did not want to meet other people with the same condition as he thought it would make him feel more depressed.
 

JP doesn’t find the idea of support groups helpful in any way. There is nothing worse than...

JP doesn’t find the idea of support groups helpful in any way. There is nothing worse than...

Age at interview: 45
Sex: Male
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Have you sort of got involved with any support groups?
 
No.
 
Can …?
 
I would really hate to do that. I mean, you know, I went, I had a friend who was ill with it and I used go and visit him, and it used to scare the crap out of me, because you go into hospital you see people who’ve got… I mean I’ve led a normal life with it. But if you go into hospital then you see people with the same disease with you that are living hospital lives. It’s absolutely terrifying.
 
This guy, who is a very good friend of my younger brother, he pretty much got hooked on the codeine and abused it. And he’s a weak person. And, I think he got, he got terrible depression. I mean catastrophically for him, he managed to use his Crohn’s to get himself on disability benefit which has ended his life. Because he had a £100 a week which isn’t enough to live, but it’s enough just to keep the wolf from the door, you know, he used the codeine the wrong way. He used other pharmaceuticals that he ended up getting prescribed as a result of it. And I don’t want to sound sanctimonious, I suppose it does sound a bit sanctimonious but I believe he had something largely similar to what I had.
 
Maybe, he probably had it a bit worse, but he just messed his life up. He just had no, maybe he had it a lot worse than me, maybe that’s a harsh thing to say. But his life was... I mean I gather now, he’s now talking to his family, but his life was basically ruined – by having this. But I also think the worst thing that could ever happen to him was disability benefit which is just a way in which you don’t deal with life, you know, you’ve got just enough money to feed yourself. So you don’t go and get a job, and he’s spent his whole life feeling sorry for himself. And taking the pharmaceuticals … taking I can’t remember what it was, I think he got into other things as well as the codeine. I can’t remember what it was now, but it destroyed him, the Crohn’s, just destroyed him.
 
But I never needed a support group and I’ve got my sister there anyway. And I’ve got three sisters. One has serious Crohn’s like I’ve got, and the other two have really got Colitis or Crohn’s too. So it’s permeated the entire family in my generation.
 
And the only support you’ve said, you’ve had your sister?
 
Yes.
 
You haven’t felt like seeking support outside of …?
 
No. No I mean I’ve got Crohn’s, I’ve got Crohn’s Association stuff, but I always, I never really had active Crohn’s and so, not after that operation. I didn’t think there was much in it for me, and it was, as I said, I don’t, I didn’t even, when I had those check ups I didn’t like going to hospital. I don’t like being around other sick people. I don’t like seeing other Crohn’s people looking shit. You know, there’s no use you having depression, you just soldier on.
 
Did you read much about it?
 
No.
 
Have you ever looked on the internet?
 
No I don’t want anything to do with it. Every now and then if a new cure has come up I might have a look at it, but I didn’t, I didn’t consider myself, I consider myself to be leading a normal life afterwards. Notwithstanding I went to the toilet a lot. Occasionally there’d be something in press about oh this big new cure, I have a quick l
 

There are only a few people with Familial Dysautonomia in the UK. Sam is in a documentary that...

There are only a few people with Familial Dysautonomia in the UK. Sam is in a documentary that...

Age at interview: 38
Sex: Male
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I have meet a few people that have had it yes. Actually two people I’ve met. One of them had it severely worse than I did, and another one was working at the World Trade Centre on September 11th and so yes, I’ve met some interesting people who have got the illness. FD, FD is the other name for it. So, not many people, unless you’re Jewish, not many people know about it, know about this illness so…
 
And have you joined a support group or anything like that?
 
No I haven’t. I’ve always been asked if I wanted to but I haven’t no. I don’t, I don’t know, I’ve gone to disability days that have happened in New York. There hasn’t been any in this country, maybe there has been. Because there’s only about four or five of us with it that live in [city], the rest either live in New York or Israel. So it’s a pretty un-well-known illness. I mean one good thing about this film that I’m doing and doing this review it’s going to tell people more about FD. So and hopefully that’s what we want, and this thing I’m doing in America to help the genes and the growth and things like that about, I mean how different science is now to what it was like 30 years ago, even before I was born. So yes.
 
However, for many people we talked to, being able to meet like-minded people with a common connection and exchanging practical tips on coping with their condition was a helpful and positive experience. Some people made good friends through local support groups and maintained these friendships after they had stopped attending the group.
 
Timing was an important issue. A couple of people had joined a group or subscribed to a newsletter soon after diagnosis but then found it difficult to cope with the sheer amount of information they received. One man with torsion dystonia described how he had not felt ready to meet others with the condition when he was most badly affected, but more recently had joined the Dystonia Society.
 

Sara felt the information she received from the Crohn's Society was very depressing and she could...

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Sara felt the information she received from the Crohn's Society was very depressing and she could...

Age at interview: 48
Sex: Female
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Have you looked at joining or becoming involved in a support group outside of your community where it’s discussed?
 
I did. I think probably it was because I found the information that they were giving out very depressing, and I just didn’t bother to actually do it.
 
Was that over the internet?
 
Yes, the Crohn’s Society and something else. There are two societies.
 
So you contacted them, but you didn’t….?
 
I looked at their website but I didn’t. … I think I did get some leaflets from them. I think there’s a time and place I really couldn’t focus on. It’s funny you need information, but you don’t need too much. They talk about a very high risk of bowel cancer and the future, and I don’t need to know that. I mean you do, but [laugh] but you know, I couldn’t cope with it somehow. Mentally and emotionally I couldn’t keep up with it.
 
In terms of support you were saying that you’d quite like eventually to set up a support group for your local community. Is it important for you that it would have to be within your local community or could you …?
 
Yes.
 
It would be?
 
Yes. Because there are issues that relate within the community and there is the Crohn’s Society for anybody else. But I think within the community it might serve a purpose.
 
Then these friends who have children with Crohn’s, you know, when we meet each other, we say, “How are things?” you know, you feel the connection. I think people do want to give support. There’s a man, must be in his sixties in our Synagogue, who one way or another found out that he had Crohn’s and I don’t know how, as I said people pick up information, because he has Crohn’s and he called us up and he said, “I’d really like you to come round and I’d like to talk to you.” He just wanted to share his experience and hopefully help us. 
 
So you went round there?
 
We went round there. I mean we know him. You know, I didn’t know he had Crohn’s, but then something you’ve got your antennae out and you feel, you sort of pick up these bits of information. 
 
 

Meeting others with the same condition used to be M’s worst nightmare. Now he feels more ready to...

Meeting others with the same condition used to be M’s worst nightmare. Now he feels more ready to...

Age at interview: 39
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 16
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And what about support? Have you joined any support groups? Or ..
 
Support or Sport?
 
Support.
 
Before the operation I was, while in Israel, Dr [name] was the head of the Movement Disorder Unit in Tel Aviv. He said, “Well we’re establishing a, a support group. Why don’t you join?” There was nothing… I couldn’t think of anything worse, than going into to a room full of people with my condition. It was my absolute nightmare. I was in denial, I wouldn’t say in denial. It was just I didn’t want to walk, I hate, I didn’t want to look in the mirror and an analogy if I looked at people with the same condition, physically. There was a little pavement in the Kibbutz, which at the end of it was it all sort of reflecting mirror, I wouldn’t walk on that, on that bit of pavement. I just couldn’t stand to see myself walking, let alone seeing someone… or seeing someone else with the same condition.
 
So now that I’m over the worst, I can easily see myself engaging in such.. happy to speak to, or share my experience, but when I was in the midst of it, I didn’t want to associate myself with anyone with that condition. So, I didn’t join any support group prior to the operation. We are now members of the Dystonia Society in the UK. In the UK, it’s the only society that deals primarily with other types of dystonia, so they’re not quite… it’s not that niche, which is the Jewish niche if you want. They focus on a wider group of torsion dystonia. 
Several people said they attended a handful of meetings and then moved on. One woman who had tried out different support groups for women with breast cancer didn’t feel she fitted in with the women she met in the first group despite their shared experiences. A woman with Crohn’s, who attended a few meetings, found out that other people experienced worse symptoms than her and did not think anyone would want to hear how relatively well she was managing. A few people said they found attending a relevant expert talk or information event more useful than just sitting around and chatting to other patients.
 

NACC helped Gareth to feel less alone when he was first diagnosed and he has raised money for...

NACC helped Gareth to feel less alone when he was first diagnosed and he has raised money for...

Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 13
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I did get involved with the NACC when I first was ill because I wanted to understand and I didn’t want to feel alone. Over the years I’ve disconnected from those kind of groups. I will do any help that I can for them, if it’s a charity. On Saturday I’m going to Manchester to headline a gig that’s to raise money for the NACC. In the beginning of August I’m over in Guernsey for another gig that’s to raise to money for the NACC. A couple of weeks ago I did a gig that was at the Comedy Store to raise money for a hospital that specialises in Crohn’s. 
 
I’ll do that, but I feel now like I don’t want to be around a room full of people who have got Crohn’s and it’s not about wanting to feel like I’m the only one and it’s my thing. It’s more that I, like in the past when I’ve gone to the AGMs for the NACC and things like that, brings back some bad memories really and I’ve moved beyond, well yes, I like to think I’ve moved beyond them and I obviously have. But those kind of, being around too many of those people sometimes brings it back and there’s an element amongst patients of any illness, I think, of competition, of having more operations, or I’ve had, or my Crohn’s is worse, or I’ve had, and I’ve met people like that, and fair enough if that’s you choose to conduct yourself, but I’ve made a point of I can’t tell you how many operations I’ve had on my belly. I know it’s a lot, but I haven’t racked it up. I haven’t got a tally chart, and it’s the same with any part of my body, I just try to not make it on some levels the be all and end all of who I am. 
 
Having said that, at the same time, it is part of who I am within my work, has been part of who I am, within my work and some of the work I’ve got. But I find yes, I find those groups quite difficult now. And also as of any groups they’re full of, they’re often full of people that want some level of power in some organisation. So you’re get your bad eggs in everything and I just choose now to just do my bit and help out, but not really be hands on, if I can help it, you know.
 
 

Simone thinks support groups have their benefits but sometimes you need an expert opinion and a...

Simone thinks support groups have their benefits but sometimes you need an expert opinion and a...

Age at interview: 44
Sex: Female
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Have you got involved with any support groups?
 
Yes. I did start with, there are two local groups. One, I only went to once. They used to meet in each other’s houses. They were a lot older than me, and, quite churchy type people and I didn’t feel I fitted in. They were very nice but, I think for most of them their experience was many years in the past. So I didn’t find that terribly helpful.
 
There’s also a local group that met every month in a local community centre. I went to that about four or five times. And they were a much more mixed group and I did get chatting to a few of the women there and that was quite helpful. And also the [clinic], private clinic where I went for treatment about every four months or so, they organised an evening and invited all the women they had treated in the past, and I find them the most useful I would say. That’s only three times a year.
 
Why is that useful?
 
Because they usually organise something relevant. They’ll have somebody coming to talk about menopause, the symptoms, or they had a surgeon there to talk all different methods of reconstruction. Or they had people like Nicola Jane coming with swimming costumes and things like that. And plus it’s just an opportunity to see the nurses again, who you feel quite close to, and unlike the NHS there are only three people you knew you’d see through the whole of the treatment. So we did build up a nice relationship. It was quite reassuring to see them again, and just to see other women who had been through similar things. It just felt more cosy there.
 
Do you think other people may be getting that from forums? That they can ask questions on forums if they are a bit worried about something like that?
 

Well I think the trouble with forums is, you’re not getting an expert’s response, you’re just getting other people’s views, and I think people have very different experiences and somebody may have found something they think is another lump and they might perhaps that’s it, they’re worried. Somebody else could just respond, “Oh yes, that happened to me. And yes, it was cancer.” Well I don’t think that’s going to help this person, because theirs might not be. This friend who had the lobular cancer, she had a mastectomy on one side, and she felt something in the other breast. And then there is definitely a mass there and she had to go and have that investigated, and thank goodness it turned out not to be cancer, but the last thing you want to be told is oh yes, that happened to me, and yes, it was. So, I think, they do have their benefits but you’ve got to be careful. I think sometimes you can come off the internet feeling worse then when you went on. 

On occasions, organisations might be able to provide financial help or give advice on financial matters for people whose ability to work has been affected by their condition or who need to purchase expensive items to help them live more comfortably.
 

Goldie was able to get a £750 grant from the Department of Health via two other support...

Goldie was able to get a £750 grant from the Department of Health via two other support...

Age at interview: 80
Sex: Female
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And now, you say you’ve got it you’re managing it very well with the sleeves and …?
 
Oh and I’m very lucky basically. If I had to have it at all I’ve been extremely lucky. I belong to an organisation called RAGE.
 
Right.
 
Yes, and I’ve been given just recently by the Department of Health partly through RAGE and partly through MacMillan £750, you know, people who are suffering the effects of breast cancer.
 
oh.
 
Have you heard of this?
 
No.
 
Well you might tell other people about it.
 
Can you tell me a bit more about it then?
 
Well it’s people who’ve got lymphoedema basically and are sort of suffering and there are various things you can’t do because of this. And RAGE nagged the Department of Health and I think the MacMillan people did as well. And the Department of Health will give you £750 to help you, you know, with anything you’d like extra. And they’d like to know at the end of the year what you’ve spent it on. And, they say, you know, you don’t have to produce receipts or anything they just could like to know. And I mean, for instance, I’m spending it on more help in the house or, and garden, that sort of thing and having my toe nails cut [laughs].
 
Oh that’s nice. Yes.
 
You know.
 
And is it a one off payment?
 

It’s a one off payment, yes. 

Besides formal support groups, people mentioned friends and their immediate local community as important sources of support. For those who had a child with a serious health condition it was important to find supportive staff at school or in the nursery to help manage their child’s health and be aware of their special medical and dietary needs. Parents who have been diagnosed with an illness and had small children to look after found practical help from friends and family invaluable. Several people had also sought Rabbinic support, both for practical guidance and also for counselling to help them come to terms with their own or their child’s condition on a spiritual level (see Jewish identity, rituals and observances).
 

Sylvia has found her sense of belonging to her synagogue a comfort to her.

Sylvia has found her sense of belonging to her synagogue a comfort to her.

Age at interview: 74
Sex: Female
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No apart from I like the way of life. Although many of my friends these days aren’t Jewish but it’s, you know, that’s how it is. I mean when I was a child you never had non Jewish people in the house or anything like that. But no, I like the way of life. I like the sense of belonging, even though I’m not a particularly active participant it gives you, for me it gives me a feeling of security. And, you know, I’ve got Jewish friends, non Jewish friends and most of the time we all mix in together and so, yes, I’ve got the best of both really, and, having the whole Jewish thing there, which as I say gives me a feeling of security.
 
When you say you like the way of life. Can you explain what you mean by that?
 
I think it’s the fact that I could go to the Synagogue if I wanted. And I know I will be accepted there, so that, that sort of thing. And again, almost of you know, the sense of community if you wish to participate. I don’t participate that much, but I know it’s there for me, and again, you know, almost a safety blanket that you can sort of, you know, run to if you need it. So yes, it’s important to me. My Jewish identity is important to me. 
 

Aaron and Rebecca found it helpful to talk to other parents via the Cystic Fibrosis Trust forum....

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Aaron and Rebecca found it helpful to talk to other parents via the Cystic Fibrosis Trust forum....

Age at interview: 34
Sex: Male
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Rebecca' Only once. [Laughs] I did the, they, well this is all through the CF Trust Forum. There was I don’t suppose you could call her a girl any more. [laughs] There’s a lady called Emily who was very ill. She was 20 and was waiting for a double lung transplant. She had already had two or three lung collapses. Was, you know, the kind of person you just don’t want to hear about. But she was just, she’s just such an amazing character, she really gave everybody a lot of inspiration. And she planned to have a group of, of what she’d referred to as ‘Emily’s Angels’ do the women’s 5k run at Hyde Park which is usually September time. I mean this was what was she? She was, was she even a year? Oh she must have been over a year.
 
Aaron' Yes, well I mean about fifteen months.
 
Rebecca' Yes, about fifteen months, so just over a year and we were still in that kind of yes, we were going to raise as much money as we can and we’ll tell the world and, and kind of then the realisation that actually we didn’t want to tell the world [laughs] came in. So that, and then we met up with quite a few, well quite a few of the mothers, like kind of more put faces to names more than necessarily communicating in a different way, you know, we communicated through the Forum. And that kind of worked.
 
But other than that we don’t tend to meet up with people, because the kids can’t up meet up because they’re a cross infection risks. So it’s actually quite hard. You don’t tend to, it’s easier to have a long distance because you’re not worried about meeting them in the street.
 
I think there was, there was another family near here, but they’ve moved away. So… But yes, [hospital name], hilariously if you live round here and you are diagnosed through a different route, you’d actually go to [hospital name], not [hospital name]. So anyone round here who has CF is diagnosed, would be going to [hospital name], so we wouldn’t know anyway.
So…
 

Rebecca' Which is obviously much more obvious and much more serious in a lot of ways. It’s very complicated. And she, you know, we kind of talk together, because we’re both in a situation where unfortunately our children are not a hundred per cent, but you know, kind of we talk about things like the school, her daughter goes to the same school as [daughter’s name] does, so we talk about how the school cope with their conditions and what provision the school’s making for them. And she’s been very helpful and very supportive and, but equally it’s gone both ways. You know, she’s asked me questions and I’ve asked her questions and so that’s been very good.  

 

When she went through chemotherapy, Simone’s friend provided practical help with the daily school...

When she went through chemotherapy, Simone’s friend provided practical help with the daily school...

Age at interview: 44
Sex: Female
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When you say your friends, you had certain friends that were really good. What was it that they did that you really felt…?
 
Well one friend just took control of the practical side of it, because I wasn’t able to do school runs, and my husband wasn’t working local enough that he could stay at home to do it. And, you know, this friend and two other friends between them, made sure that somebody was always around to take my children to school and to pick them up in the afternoon. So that was, you know, a big worry off my mind. 
 
And they were there to talk to as well, but, I just, they can’t really understand, you know, if you haven’t been through it, you can’t really understand, you just know you don’t want it to happen to you, and you don’t want to see it happen to somebody else, but you don’t really know what the experience is like.
 
For many people, the most natural place to seek out help and support were partners and family members (see Relationships). Many people we spoke to had family members who were affected by the same condition, and several said they found it useful to ‘compare notes’ about diagnostic and treatment information with siblings or cousins. It was harder to talk to parents because of a concern about causing parents to feel guilty or worried.
 
Those who had family members living in other countries often found that their relatives’ healthcare experiences were quite different to their own. A few people also said they had first heard of scientific breakthroughs, tests or treatments through friends or relatives in Israel or the United States rather than their own health professionals in the UK. This was thought to be due to the larger populations of Ashkenazi Jews in these two countries, meaning that the condition was likely to have a higher profile.
 
Several people who had received a lot of support when they were unwell were keen to ‘give something back’ once they felt better and let others benefit from what they had learned about their condition.
 

Before the latest recurrence of her cancer Harriet had hoped to draw on her background in...

Before the latest recurrence of her cancer Harriet had hoped to draw on her background in...

Age at interview: 55
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 20
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I have gotten involved with the Maggie Centre. What I had decided to do, funnily enough, before this last recurrence, when I was moving out to [town], I thought I could do something very positive with my cancer experience and my skills as a psychologist. I had spent some time with the Bristol Cancer Help Centre where in 2000 my husband and I went for a weekend, and I learned a lot. I thought, ‘Oh I’ll go to some of the courses they run for practitioners and see what the latest thinking is before I set myself up’. 
 
So I enrolled on a number of courses there on nutrition, on endorphins, on all kinds of mind/ body relationship stuff, on guided imagery and so on. While I was there somebody was on the course with me from a Maggie Centre. I’d never heard of the Maggie Centres. I knew about Bacup, I knew about Macmillan, I knew about lots of things but I had never heard of Maggie. It sounded like a really good scheme. It’s a kitchen table approach to cancer care. You come into a homely environment, they make you a cup of tea, there are biscuits on a kitchen table. Nobody wears uniforms but they’re all professionals and so on. And I thought I really like the sound of that. When I called to find out what was available to me locally in terms of support, I talked to the Palliative Care unit at the [hospital] and they said, “Well do you know about the Maggie Centre? We have one here at the [hospital]” Oh great! 
 
I did go along and I have a monthly session with their therapist. I went a little more often to do mindfulness meditation training initially but I wasn’t feeling like I needed to go on with this with my background in psychology. I needed a place once a month or so to just offload everything without having to worry about anybody’s feelings, particularly when I was looking into the abyss. I guess I’ll look into that again, but it might not feel as scary this next time, because I already know how scary it is. But maybe it will, who knows.
 
I go for one-to-one counselling. They sometimes have an art therapy group. I went to a six week block of sessions, which I found very useful. It was a little group of people who supported each other, but it’s not a regular, on going support group. I enjoyed it and I found it useful.
 
A few people accessed one-to-one psychological support from a counsellor or psychologist with specialist knowledge about their condition. A couple of women had been able to see a counsellor through a charity, but others had to use their own initiative and pay for services privately.
 

Karen received fantastic support from Chai Cancer Care when she was unwell and would like to give...

Karen received fantastic support from Chai Cancer Care when she was unwell and would like to give...

Age at interview: 48
Sex: Female
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Did you get any support from Chai Cancer Care?
 
Oh fantastic yes. I had a counsellor called [name], a mad Israeli woman who was brilliant. She made me laugh. She actually said I didn’t really need counselling, but she liked chatting to me anyway. So we went. So I went and we talked about shopping and stuff. [laughs] And my girls. She … I dragged my two along to the first meeting. They were fuming with me. They were not interested at all. They said they’d got their friends to talk to. So I had to leave it at that. 
 
But I kept going back they’ve actually phoned and left a message, which I haven’t got back to her yet, just to see how I … you know, to follow through and see how I am months down the line. And I went and I had some massages. Obviously very gentle. You’re not allowed anything deep tissue. But found it really therapeutic and it was all free. You know, you give donations to what you can afford at the time, but basically if you can’t afford anything then you don’t pay anything. Fantastic place. I really think it’s a fantastic place. No I’d definitely recommend it, and I definitely will in a year or so, when I’ve gone through the two years, go back and say, “Right I’m now, please God, still in remission, you know, and would like to volunteer,” especially if I’m not working full time. I feel I’ve got to do something. So yes…
 
 

Michelle’s counsellor helped her through chemotherapy, whereas talking to other women with breast...

Michelle’s counsellor helped her through chemotherapy, whereas talking to other women with breast...

Age at interview: 41
Sex: Female
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When you’ve talked about choices, how difficult is it when you’re faced with choices, did you discuss the choices with other people a lot. Have you tried to resolves these choices yourself?
 
No I’m a very talky person. I like people and I’m not very good at making decisions and on these subjects I talked to genetic people, certainly medical profession people. [2 sec pause] And I have also spoken to other women in the same boat although that’s not been helpful and I’ve spoken to my close, my husband and my best, my girlfriends. And I have a counsellor. All of which has helped me consider the decision where I’ve, where I am at.
 
And you said it wasn’t helpful talking to other women in a similar position to yourself?
 
No, because no two people are the same. And, you know, one girl springs to mind, very, quite negative with her experience. Oh no I can’t face it. I don’t want to live with the fear. I don’t want to live with the fear. Well that’s not me. I don’t want to live with the fear. But I wasn’t living with fear. I was okay. I was working out that I’ve only got five years with my ovaries and working out that … [2 sec pause] I was trying to get a good deal for myself. Negotiate a good deal for myself with BRCA. And other women with their… have been like, “Oh God, you must check yourselves. If I get osteoporosis with Tamoxifen I’ve got…” Talking to other women is not necessarily a good thing. That put the fear in me. More than I had. So …
 
And you haven’t got involved with support groups then if you’ve not been talking to other women, or have you tried to be involved with support groups?
 
Now I have visited a local, it’s called Chai Cancer Care. It’s near where we live offering all sorts of services for men and women who have cancer. And that’s been okay. But I have actually found that the only person who really did it for me, was this kind of, my own counsellor that I found on my own… and it didn’t really did do it for me there. I didn’t want. It didn’t do it for me. My counsellor does it for me. She, she helped me through chemotherapy, which was at the time my biggest stuff. I found that horrendous. Again it was the lack of control. I don’t do drugs. I don’t do neurofen. I don’t do harmful things in my body. To have chemo was horrendous, psychologically for me. And she’s amazing with tips. She has been the one that’s really helped me through this experience mentally. And other women have been phenomenal in terms of when they found out I wasn’t well, people in the community have offered acupuncture for free, you know, physiotherapy. People have been so amazing. So, in that respect the extended community, alternative people, and I had that. That was amazing as well.  


Last reviewed September 2015.
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