The Sharon Fox Cancer Centre Tamworth

I hesitated at putting the title ‘Coming Out’ for this post as for me, admitting to and telling people about my illness was a big thing to do. Having kept my cancer news on a ‘need to know’ basis, for several weeks only closest family and friends were aware. Eventually I used the necessary evil that is Facebook to post a brief ‘guess where I’ve been…kind of message’ as this would filter to both friends and acquaintances which in turn meant I wouldn’t have to tell them personally. The response shocked me, so many people left lovely messages and sent kind wishes, I was quite overwhelmed. The next step was to get back out and about, I wasn’t back to work and so needed to show my face and start going about normal life again. Having run a creative business I was aware that the local cancer charity centre, run by breast cancer patient Sharon Fox held an Arts & Crafts morning once a week. I figured I could go along and get involved, maybe help out. I’d visited the centre before my illness a couple of times but then it was to drop donations or concerning involvement with the charity as a business. This was different – now I was one of the gang! Sharon was aware I’d had cancer and had herself left a lovely message in response to my facebook ‘announcement’ so I contacted her beforehand about joining that weeks group. When I arrived outside the centre I was suddenly overcome with all kinds of emotions, fear, anxiety, sadness and panic set in. Once I step through that door they know, I’ve had cancer. I’m not dropping off a donation, I’m not running a workshop, I’m there because I’ve had cancer. It was as if the news had hit me all over again and the denial I’d been in was futile, the people behind this door could see through the bravado because they’d been here too. As I stood outside another lady arrived and as if via telepathy greeted me and opened the door, ushered me in as if we were old friends. Once inside Sharon was there and I was effortlessly introduced to the ladies present (no mention of the C word) just that I was joining in the session that morning. We stood and chatted and then went through to the room where Maggie, who was there to help proceeded to show me some of the art they were working on. So far so good. It was warm and relaxed and I was talking about things I could relate to. Then it hit again and I can’t explain what or why. It was as though I was looking at the activity and hearing the chatter from a distance. The tears started to fall (incidently they are falling now even thinking about it) and I stood and cried. For the first time, outside of my home or a hospital bed the emotion was overwhelming and I let go of some of the fear I’d been hiding. Maggie comforted me and said all the right things before another couple of ladies offered me a seat in the office for a chat about how I could help when in fact, they were helping me. By this time I was able to articulate how I felt but no explanation was needed as again, they knew. I don’t think I made any firm offers of help that day but by the time I left I was strangely empowered. I’d done two of the things that I hadn’t done yet, cried in public and talked openly about my experience and I was ok. ‘It’ was ok. Cancer had taken my kidney and knocked my health about somewhat but I was still here. Since that visit I have returned to the centre. Admittedly one of those visits was spent in the car park and I didn’t leave the car….bad day. However, on the other occasions I wasn’t the ‘new girl’ and saw first hand both men and women enter the centre and speak of their illness, this is a most humbling experience. To witness the work done at Sharon Fox Cancer Centre is emotional whether you are a patient, carer, volunteer or visitor you can’t help but feel part of this wonderful place. This is my way of saying thank you. Sharon Fox Cancer Centre

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