I recently attended the Wellbeing course at the Manchester Institute of Health and performance for people who had gone through Cancer Treatment at the Christie Hospital Manchester and it was suberb. I had robotic surgery for Prostate Cancer in September 2018 which was the biggest shock of my life and I will never forget been told the news. After recovery I attended the 8-week course in January. I had reservations about signing up as I was not sure if the group thing would be for me.
How wrong I was. Yes, the first week meeting people for the first time was a bit tentative but I quickly realised that it was a safe place where I was with other men who knew exactly what I was feeling. It was a relief to know I was not alone and my thoughts, worries and anxieties were very normal.
I guess it took two or three weeks to establish trust but I started to look forward to the meetings every Thursday and each week we had a different speaker on an important topic regarding wellbeing including Mindfulness and coping strategies which were very useful and informative. The session in the Gym was very enjoyable and John who took the session was very approachable and friendly. Like others who came to talk to us he has personal experience of cancer and his empathy shone through.
They run a Women’s and Men’s course every few months and during the 8 weeks 2 sessions are held jointly.
We had three people who worked at the Christie including a psycho-psychologist that facilitated the meetings each week and they helped lead the discussions in a very dignified and sensitive way. By the last session it felt like we were all friends and were talking very freely as if we had all known each other for many months or years.
The 8-week course was a big help as when you finish treatment you can feel a bit isolated and the ability to share your experiences is I feel an important part of your recovery and it would be wonderful if one day every individual who has been through a life changing cancer experience had the opportunity to go on one of these courses.
I can give no higher praise than to say I will miss the course and having the opportunity to talk things over in a safe and calm environment. The 3 practitioners from the Christie who took the course Rachel, Kate and Yasmin are people of the highest integrity and calibre and I thank them for all that they have done for me. I am also grateful to the other men in the group for sharing their experiences.
To anyone in the future thinking about going on one of these courses I would urge them to do what I did and put aside any apprehension and give it a go. It may help you get through one of the most difficult periods of your life.
After the course we were told we can contact the practitioners any time and the professionals who came in have all given us their contact details if we ever want to contact them. I know the six of us who attended the course are all very thankful for the support we received and all of us now plan to meet up very soon as friendships were made and we can go on and give each other on going support. Sometimes the people who truly understand your emotions and feelings are the ones who have been there themselves.
I would love one day to see everyone who has gone through a life changing Cancer experience to be offered what we were as it is so important to get this sort of support post treatment or during on-going long-term treatment. As we all know the diagnosis of Cancer is a traumatic life changing moment and the different treatments bring their own challenges but these emotional and physical challenges do not end there and courses like this enable people to work through issues that otherwise they may not have had the opportunity to discuss in a very understanding environment.
Thank you to all who made this course possible. You are doing vital work which is greatly appreciated.