idea for a telephone help-line was as a direct result
of my own breast cancer experience. At the time of diagnosis,
there was not a counselling service available that addressed
my specific needs. I felt very isolated and alone.
was diagnosed as 'probably' having breast cancer in
April 1993. I will never forget the fear that began
with that first visit to a consultant. When I heard
the word 'cancer' it was 'death' that resonated in my
head. After the initial shock which usually has a numbing
effect on most patients, I set up regular counselling
sessions with a friend who lived close by. Part of me
wanted to go to bed and stay there until any treatment
was over. Counselling gave me the space and support
to explore the worst case scenario in a safe and supportive
environment and helped me to function with a little
more ease until I was admitted in to hospital four weeks
later to have what was called a 'frozen biopsy' ( a
small part of the tumour taken away to a lab and tested.
The result was positive and I underwent a mastectomy.)
If I had not had contact with people who had counselling
expertise, I fear I may have fallen apart, or had to
rely on medication to get me through those early weeks.
People who are diagnosed with cancer, often end up having
to support the people they have told.
lose a breast in a society that puts so much emphasis
on body image, is traumatic and has a devastating effect
on the self esteem of many women and an equally damaging
effect on partners, family and friends.
resources are still limited and often not adequate to
meet immediate and long term needs of people affected
by breast cancer. I feel lucky to have recovered well,
both physically and emotionally through my own determination
and counselling support.
1994, when a telephone help-line was launched in my
home town of Frome, I have been committed to providing
a free service which will nurture and support as many
people as possible, who find their lives torn apart
by the devastating effects cancer. PAC employs a qualified,
Year (2000), PAC was supported by lottery funding to
embark on a feasibility study, which clearly showed
a need for the service we offer. No comparable service
like PAC exists in Mid Somerset and possibly the whole
of Somerset. The Stroud & Swindon are a continuing sponsor
of ours and we have a town centre office suite donated
has now expanded and offers free professional counselling
to all people affected by breast cancer and other