Counsellor in Grief & Loss and Support for People Affected by Cancer
Coming to terms with any loss can be extremely challenging, especially if you (or other
people) think you should have ‘moved on’. Grief doesn’t have a time limit and recovering
from a big loss will take some people much longer than others. Many are not able to put
aside their sadness and engage fully with life again until well past the time when there
might be a perception that you should have.
It is often difficult to talk about your feelings with family and close friends or colleagues
because you don’t want to worry and upset them - or run the risk of being judged about
where you are on your grief journey. It is important to understand that this is your journey
and no one else’s.
A diagnosis of cancer is a blow to everyone. Your trust in your body has been shattered
and even when there is a good prognosis, many people suffer a complete loss of
confidence. A few questions that might be going round and round in your head are:
- Are you going to die?
- If not, will you be able to go back to your old job at the same salary
- Will you be able to have (more) children?
- How will you cover your medical bills, mortgage or rent, utility bills, school fees, Internet and/or mobile phone contracts, car registration, insurances?
- Will you be able to make up the loss of income from being unable to work for a
period of time?
- Will you look the same as before?
- Will your partner still love you?
- Who will clean the house, do the shopping, mow the lawn, cook for the family, etc.?
I began looking into personal development when my marriage broke up. This helped me to
recognise the part I had played in the end of that relationship, but I was still far from
comfortable in my own skin when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. All my energy was
needed then to just survive the treatment and when that was over I decided that I needed to
take some time to re-evaluate my life.
I resigned from my job and gave myself a year to work out exactly what I wanted to do. Not
having the reassurance of hospital visits any longer and no reason to get out of bed in the
morning left me in a place where I was certain I wouldn’t survive. I experienced panic
attacks and high levels of anxiety and was barely able to function. I joined a support group
where I learned that I was grieving the loss of my pre-cancer life and that a current grief can
bring up unresolved griefs from the past - of which I had many.
A year later I started a counselling course and after graduation I began working with the Life
Force Cancer Foundation as a support group facilitator. I have worked with Life Force for 19
years as a counselling facilitator of weekly support groups for patients & survivors and a
separate group for carers. I also provide counselling for people who don’t want to go to a
group or can’t get to one. Personal counselling is done face-to-face or by phone.
Certificate in Holistic Counselling 1997
Certificate in Clinical Hypnotherapy 1998
Counselling Facilitator with Life Force Cancer Foundation since October 1998
In private practice since December 1998