“It was March 2008 and I was on holiday when I first discovered a lump. I initially thought nothing of it, but by May, the lump was still there so I decided to see a doctor. I was quickly referred to the Royal Marsden Hospital and just four weeks later I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

My family, most of whom live in my hometown of Dublin, Ireland, were devastated when I told them the news. They were also concerned because I lived alone in London and my support network was limited. I worked shifts as a Police Communications Officer for the Met police force and I knew most of my friends through work. When I was diagnosed, I had to take sick leave and so my routine of seeing my friends at work was disrupted.

My family rallied around to support me and even travelled to London to come with me to hospital. Nevertheless, it felt important to me to demonstrate that I could get through breast cancer alone. I think on some level I also believed that, despite how terrible I felt, displaying my emotions would make others even more worried about me, particularly my daughter. She was studying in Dublin at the time and I didn’t want to disrupt how well she was doing.

However, that all changed when I discovered Breast Cancer Haven. I’d initially sought help for the aches and pains that treatment had caused me. Yet, when I arrived at the centre, I was made to feel safe and comforted and it helped me to open up and come to terms with how I was really feeling.

My support programme included reflexology, acupuncture and nutritional therapy, all of which truly transformed my life. I found the nutrition sessions especially useful as they taught me how the right diet can make you feel happier and healthier. Acupuncture also helped me learn to relax and made me feel whole again.

The therapists at Breast Cancer Haven were kind, respectful and taught me to put myself first and embrace my emotions. By caring for me, Breast Cancer Haven also provided comfort for my family.

Their support made my experience of breast cancer more manageable and helped me feel empowered, even beyond breast cancer. I am so grateful that they were there for me when I was trying to tackle breast cancer all by myself”.

Find out more about our free support services at Breast Cancer Haven