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What happens after breast cancer?

You’ve faced breast cancer but then what happens? Can life go back to normal after a journey like that?

Breast Cancer Care offers support and information to help people adjust to life after breast cancer treatment through their Moving Forward courses.  Here, Deirdre and Morna explain what it has meant for them…

Both Deirdre and Morna were diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 2014; Morna was 45, Deirdre 60.They formed a close friendship after they met on a Breast Cancer Care Moving Forward course.

‘I was fine and felt upbeat about my diagnosis,’ saysid Deirdre. ‘Towards the end of treatment, I was feeling unsure about the next step.’

Deirdre, who lives by herself in Tayport near Dundee, saysid: ‘After treatment, it felt as though people thought I was cured, that everything was over and I didn’t need support anymore.’

Morna was also apprehensive when her treatment ended. ‘I felt like my life was at a standstill. I was thinking “Wwhat’s next?” I decided to go to Moving Forward to find answers.’

Finding answers

Both women enrolled on the Dundee Moving Forward course, which offers information and support to help women adjust to life after treatment.

‘It was wonderful to find out that anything I was worried about, other people were worried about too,’ says Deirdre. ‘None of my experience was unique.’

Morna found the course made her want to ‘get up and go’.

‘Even my partner noticed a difference after the course,’ she says. ‘It made me want to get on with life.’

Paddlers for Life

Before breast cancer, Deirdre had enjoyed sea kayaking in her spare time.

‘I thought I’d never be able to do it again,’ she says. ‘But I love being on the water.’

She happened to see Paddlers for Life - a dragon boat team made up of women who’ve had breast cancer - on a TV show. ‘I got really excited and contacted them straight away,’ she says.

Deirdre persuaded Morna to join her on a trip to Windermere to see the Paddlers in action. Unbeknown to the two friends, however, Deirdre had in fact signed them both up to take part in a regatta, so they ended up paddling themselves. ‘It was wonderful,’ says Deirdre. ‘Speaking to people who were further down the track after breast cancer made me realise that life doesn’t stop.’

Moving forward

For Deirdre, part of moving forward after treatment has involved coming to terms with changes. ‘You think you’re going to be the same person, and the people around you think so too. But you’re not the same, you’re different. It’s about accepting that, and embracing it, rather than fighting it,’ she says.

Deirdre recommends planning enjoyable things to do for after treatment finishes, whether it’s a holiday, pampering weekend or something you enjoyed before treatment and haven’t done for a while. ‘It helps with “the void” you experience when treatment and hospital visits end.’

This year, Morna successfully completed the Ben Nevis Challenge for Breast Cancer Care.

‘Moving Forward allowed me to put the last year behind me,’ she says. ‘I feel so positive about the future. And it’s just so great to have met someone like Deirdre.’

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