Anne Skinner would be the first to admit that when she was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2008, she never really confronted the psychological side of the illness.

Anne knows all too well how 'just coping' means you push your feelings into the background. So, when she returned to work and had to face her 'new normal' she didn't know where to turn. As she explains: 'I wasn't in a strong place.'

Little did Anne know as she tried to piece her life back together that it would all come crashing down around her once more in 2013 after a second diagnosis of breast cancer. This time, is it was a mastectomy and reconstruction. This time, it meant years on hormone drug Tamoxifen to help prevent the cancer from returning.

This time, she knew she couldn't face it alone.

Help came in the form of Breast Cancer Haven, recommended to her by her Breast Care Nurse. Anne loved the non-judgmental surroundings and the fact the Leeds centre represented 'a place between home life and all the hospital madness. It was an invaluable crutch that got me through.'

When people talk about their experience of Breast Cancer Haven they often reflect on the range of treatments on offer and the therapies they received. When Anne reflects on her time at the centre, she talks about the fact one of her favourite things was actually going for a coffee before her acupuncture and having the chance to just 'sit and reflect'. 'It was a great place to pause and let go and not have to put on a show,' says Anne.

Anne also found it was a brilliant place to meet ladies at different stages of the journey so she could both recognise she wasn't alone and to see just how far she'd come - as well making 'some terrific new friends'.

Anne, like many people, is conditioned to put everyone else first. It was Breast Cancer Haven, however, that reminded her of just how important it is to put herself first.  In particular, Anne says she felt like she'd 'got away lightly' because she didn't have to go through chemo. Breast Cancer Haven was quick to give her a real sense of perspective and help her realise that she, too, had been through so much and needed time to reflect on and process her emotions.

It was Breast Cancer Haven that helped Anne back into full time work, motivated her to complete the Leeds 5k and take part in a fashion show. And, it was Breast Cancer Haven that inspired her to pursue her life coaching ambitions.

Far from getting back to where she was before her diagnosis, thanks to her time at the centre, Anne has discovered that a ‘new normal’ is just what she needs.


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