Cancer is a great leveller. Before a cancer diagnosis most of us, despite probably knowing someone who has experienced cancer, are largely in the dark. Your need is for specifics about what to expect, what support you will require, along with searching for hope and comfort when reading about survivorship, caregiving and coping with loss.
Fully understanding what you are facing will help you overcome fear and anxiety about the future by relieving stress surrounding the unknown. Although you may have support around you from family, friends and your medical team, ultimately you, or your caregiver, must become the manager of your own illness.
It will fall on you take back any control over your illness you can and drive your recovery by becoming your best researcher, advocate and decision-maker.
The aim of this website is to help guide you emotionally and practically through your journey. We understand and are here to support you.
This is the website that I myself wanted and expected to find, but never did.
The aim of this website is to provide an insightful overview of the emotional and social impact cancer will have on your life, with all the benefits of hindsight. It is also a patient and caregiver-centred resource designed to support those who find themselves in this situation navigate the cancer world, research their disease and find the support they need as they journey through the eye of the storm and beyond.
Cancer Signpost offers a unique voice; that of personal account, backed by a broad range of research based in science, philosophy, history, nutrition, psycho-social therapy, spirituality and complementary therapies. The content of this website provides an overview of the credible cancer resources in existence which offers breadth and depth to my own personal experience.
Our content is built upon thousands of references from all the relevant books, websites and a huge number of primary sources of information from scientific journals, detailing the latest evidence-based medicine. Every effort has been made to include the sources used and ensure that the information given is up to date, accurate and authentic.
Through the newsletter opt-in, you are supported at every turn by a curated global overview of a selection of trusted cancer resources which results in an invaluable overview of information from both on and off-line. It also provides links to the website’s shop which provide inspiration as to what products are useful and what books are recommended reads.
Despite your background, your achievements, career, speciality or knowledge base, you will find yourself now at the centre of a world which you probably have very little knowledge of. It is extremely daunting to be in a whole new situation and not know where to turn. Most go straight onto the internet, to search and search without even knowing initially what to research. The information at present online is confusing, vast and completely overwhelming when faced with cancer, with plenty of unreliable sources to wade through.
Some of the information here you may already know or are in the process of piecing together. Yet, instead of randomly Googling in the hope of finding what you need, your time and energy could be better spent focusing on living as well as you can through this moment, without the additional burden of not knowing where to turn.
I know that it would have been very useful to have had one place to go to which could accompany me through my entire journey and I hope this website and the newsletter can be that tool for you to use too.
From the bottom of my heart I wish you the best possible outcome.
I am writing from the experience of having lived through the terminal diagnosis of my husband, through the turmoil of his death and through the aftermath of the impact grief had on both myself and my children.
I fought to get him the latest treatments, bringing him to see the top specialists in the NHS and Harley Street. I started researching and have never stopped. Grief left me agitated, full of pent up energy and still wanting to fight this disease, determined that some good would come out of the terrible situation.
My husband died of cancer in late 2016. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer and lived for seven and a half months of illness before he died. He found out just before I gave birth to our second child, who was a twin, but we lost the little boy. He told me of his Stage 4 Lung Cancer diagnosis six days after coming home from the hospital after giving birth to our daughter and burying our son.
Everything was now down to me, and with the weight of this responsibility every single, painful step forward felt like the struggle it was. I was caregiving for my desperately ill husband, for my toddler and new-born baby, all this on top of running a house and hosting endless visitors.
When he died, I experienced debilitating depression, crippling anxiety, fits of anger, periods of mania, symptoms of PTSD and a mental breakdown. I had no choice other than keeping going, staying well and most importantly alive, to try to do my best for my husband and for our kids.
Managing my own grief also came on top of trying to support a toddler who was angrily grieving; suffering night terrors, frustrated, lashing out, constantly physically and emotionally fighting me. I fought pressures from all angles; overwhelming sadness and grief, isolation, serious mental health issues, financial strain, family fallouts, multiple house moves as a direct result of my husband passing, not to mention the negative impact all this has had upon my own health.
Creating this website has never felt like a choice but has just poured out of me in grief; my emotion-filled reaction, my therapeutic outlet, my way of coping. This process has provided me with the focus I needed to process every aspect of this journey and a chance to not only fully face what had happened to me and our children, but also to accept all of the consequences and losses cancer brought into our lives.
It has given me a way out of the trauma by anchoring me in the storm along with giving me the chance to dedicate something positive to a very special man; my husband and the father of my children. I sincerely hope that through my experience other people reading this will be helped in some way through their own experience of facing cancer and beyond. Hopefully that way, some good will come.
Cancer forever changes the direction of many lives, including mine.
All this is aimed at hopefully working towards my long-term goal of one day opening a wellness retreat for families to spend time together in a non-hospital environment during the palliative care phase.
As a family, our experience was that we were very kindly offered, through the local cancer charity, a hotel break to spend our one and only holiday together as a family of four. However, it proved a very surreal experience as the tourists holidaying around us didn’t know that my husband was months from death.
I know that the precious time that a family has left could be enjoyed in a better and more appropriate setting. This is the reason why I decided to work towards providing people with incurable cancer and their loved ones with a specific retreat where they could enjoy some cherished escapism together. When faced with a terminal diagnosis, or when a cancer journey nears the end, quality time with your family becomes a critical need and one which is difficult to come by.
I hope to be able to provide families with a beautiful escape from the devastation of diagnosis, a place to make memories, to be able to spend precious time together and put some quality back into their lives. A rare opportunity in the eye of the storm to take back some precious time again just for living and being together, away from the grind of relentless hospital visits and hosting well-meaning visitors. A respite from the painful reality, whilst still possible.
Being able to create a way to financially support a retreat has been a major motivating factor behind setting up this website. By supporting this website, you will be helping to work towards fully funding these respite facilities, as the stay for the guests will be free, open to anyone facing a late stage diagnosis, advanced or terminal cancer.