No need for re­cov­ery road to be lonely

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - CONVERSATIONS - SVEN HERSELMAN

The road to beat­ing can­cer can be a long one but you don’t have to travel it alone, says one Blen­heim can­cer sur­vivor.

Be­ing di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer came out of the blue for Raewyn Hag­g­land.

The non-smok­ing, reg­u­lar ex­er­cis­ing and healthy eat­ing mum thought she was do­ing ev­ery­thing she could to avoid the dis­ease.

‘‘You never think it will be you, and when it is it al­most doesn’t feel real,’’ she says.

The thought of seek­ing help from the Marl­bor­ough Can­cer So­ci­ety was one she dis­liked and even feared. It wasn’t un­til an on­col­ogy nurse asked if she would be OK for some­one from the so­ci­ety to visit her at home that she re­alised what help was on of­fer.

‘‘I had the to­tally wrong per­cep­tion of the Can­cer So­ci­ety. I thought it was de­press­ing - that they were about death, but when I got to know what they do I learned they are not like that at all,’’ Raewyn says.

‘‘I wish I had known about them sooner.’’

She has ben­e­fited from sup­port groups, home vis­its, art classes and has used their of­fices as a refuge when things be­came too much.

It wasn’t easy for her to open up at first and it was only be­cause close friend Gwen An­der­son en­cour­aged her to at­tend sup­port groups that she be­gan to find the help she needed.

Raewyn was di­ag­nosed with can­cer in Oc­to­ber 2012 and had surgery in De­cem­ber that year. This was fol­lowed by six months of chemo­ther­apy and ra­di­a­tion treat­ment. ‘‘In May 2013 I did the ‘liv­ing with can­cer’ course. I was so ner­vous at the first meet­ing I spent most of it in the bath­room,’’ she says.

How­ever, it proved to be a help­ful out­let and a place she could find sup­port.

‘‘I’m still part of a group of ladies from the course who meet once a month for din­ner. In the early days we would talk about our treat­ment, but now we dis­cuss life, our fam­i­lies and our fu­ture.

‘‘Blen­heim re­ally is the best place to have can­cer be­cause there is so much sup­port, from the so­ci­ety, from peo­ple and busi­nesses as well.’’

Raewyn will be help­ing out on the day at the Marl­bor­ough Re­lay For Life on March 11 at Lans­downe Park.

She has taken part in the re­lay twice be­fore, but is keen to show her sup­port this year by help­ing make the day a suc­cess.

To reg­is­ter a team for the re­lay email hi­laryg@can­cer­soc.org.nz

PHOTO: SVEN HERSELMAN/ FAIR­FAX NZ

Blen­heim breast can­cer sur­vivor Raewyn Hag­g­land will be help­ing out at the Marl­bor­ough Re­lay For Life on March 11.

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