Ravinder was a busy housewife and mum of two when she suddenly began to lose a lot of weight for no apparent reason and had a heavy pain under her armpit. After visiting the doctor, who said it was just muscular pain, a few days later she started itching under her breast and on closer inspection, realised she could feel a hard lump there.
She went back to her GP, who wrote to the hospital to arrange an appointment in the next two weeks. During that agonising wait, Ravinder struggled to come to terms with the fact the lump in her breast could be cancer. So she started searching the internet for more information, which is when she stumbled upon the Macmillan Support Line and decided to call them.
“My emotions were up and down and I had a cry with one of the ladies over the phone and they were just so caring and understanding,” says Ravinder. Eventually she was seen by the hospital who confirmed the news she’d been dreading. She had stage two breast cancer. “I was in shock and denial. I kept walking round thinking this isn’t happening to me. My first thoughts were for my children because you think you’re going to die. It was terrifying.”
Ravinder also felt anxious about speaking to others, including loved ones, about how she felt as cancer is still very much a taboo subject among the Asian community she belongs to.
But she remembered the comfort she’d found from speaking to Macmillan before her formal diagnosis so it wasn’t long before she picked up the phone once more.
“I knew at Macmillan I could talk to someone about how I was feeling and I wouldn’t be judged. If I wanted to cry, I could. And actually it was easier talking to a stranger than my loved ones, because obviously you don’t want them to worry any more than they are. With a stranger I could just speak more openly.”
- Ravinder’s treatment involved a mastectomy, radiotherapy and gruelling chemotherapy that really took its toll on her physically and emotionally. It was during these tough times, the Macmillan Support Line became a real lifeline. “I often rang them at my low points like before chemo as I have a needle phobia and knew needles would be involved.
"I’d also call in the evenings a lot when I was on my own and feeling isolated. I knew they couldn’t do anything but it was so reassuring that there was someone there at the other end to listen to me. When I spoke to Macmillan I felt surprisingly so much lighter. They definitely helped me see things more positively.”
There for you, always
No one has to face cancer alone. Macmillan Cancer Support provide medical, emotional, practical and financial support for the 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK today, through a range of services:
- The Macmillan Support Line, which provides cancer information as well as support, is open Monday-Friday, 9am-8pm to lend a listening ear to anyone who wants to chat. You can also call to discuss how Macmillan can help you financially through cancer. Call 0808 808 00 00. There are no charges for these calls.
- Chat to others who know what you’re going through on the Macmillan Online Community. Visit macmillan.org.uk/community for more information.
Have you had help from Macmillan? If so, we'd love to hear your story. Please drop an email to Katharine on firstname.lastname@example.org