Maggie’s Lanarkshire Afternoon Tea

Maggie’s Lanarkshire is inviting ladies to attend an Afternoon Tea on 25 June to help raise funds for people with cancer.

Funds raised will help people like, Helen, 66, from Carluke who was diagnosed with bladder cancer in August 2017.

Now having come through cancer treatment and with support from Maggie’s, Helen is back to living a full life with her partner, Lockhart – playing golf, curling and generally ‘making the most of it’ with her children and grandchildren.

Helen’s cancer diagnosis came completely out of the blue. She says: “Before my diagnosis, I played golf 3- 4 times a week and I was a self-employed interiors agent. This meant carrying heavy fabric books around with me and I was always flitting between business appointments, so I was fit and healthy.

“I just thought I had a bladder infection because I was running to the toilet all of the time.  Then I had to get up to the toilet ten times during one night and I went to my GP. After investigation, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. To say it was a shock is an understatement.”

Helen adds: “Lockhart and I have been together for over 25 years. We’ve been through everything together – so when I was told I had a 40 per cent chance of recovery if I had my bladder removed and chemotherapy – both of us went into complete shock. But I knew that’s what I had to do, I was not going to be in the other 60%. I was going to embrace the treatment and take every chance I had to save my life.”

Fortunately, Helen found Maggie’s Lanarkshire on the same day as her diagnosis.

Helen adds: “We were walking back to the car from the hospital and we saw Maggie’s and went in straight away. I already knew a bit about Maggie’s and had been to a few  fundraisers, so I was aware that they could offer support at every stage of a diagnosis.

“At that point I didn’t know the full story or what my course of treatment would be and my main worry was, ‘What was I going to tell our children?’ Maggie’s helped and advised me to tell them three quarters of what I knew. I only had a few days until my next appointment and by that time, I would know more and be able to give them a fuller picture with a plan for treatment.

“Just to tell them I had cancer without a plan for treatment would have allowed everyone’s minds to go AWOL and I didn’t want to worry the children any more than I had to.”

As well as emotional support, Helen also attended ‘Look Good Feel Better’ with 11 other ladies at Maggie’s – a wellbeing workshop which gives advice on how to look after hair and skin, and she was given assistance from one of Maggie’s benefits advisers on her self-employed status, and support to apply for Universal Credit.

Helen adds: “Cancer is traumatic for the whole family and the last thing you need is stress. Having Maggie’s behind me every step of the way including having a benefits adviser fight my corner for me to get Universal Credit at a time when I couldn’t work, helped me to stay positive.

“I vowed to keep my spirits and my fitness levels up. Walking outdoors two and three times a day really helped with all of this and I even filled in spreadsheets to show my consultant how much walking I was doing. He was emphatic that the success of my operation depended on my fitness levels as well, so I was determined to do what I could to be here for my family.”

Helen sings much praise for Maggie’s support, and explains that it’s not just for the individual with cancer, but for carers and other members of the family as well.

She adds: “The NHS took care of the physical side of my treatment, but Maggie’s helped myself and Lockhart with all the emotions that come with cancer too. Lockhart came to every hospital appointment with me and while he was waiting, he would always go to Maggie’s. 

“Now when he hears of others who have a cancer diagnosis in the family, he will tell them to go to Maggie’s. We both got such a lot from going there, having a cup of tea and talking to people who understood what we were going through.”

Helen is helping to organise the Afternoon Tea at Maggie’s Lanarkshire on 25 June and is urging others to join her in the special occasion.

She said: “Cancer is not a picnic and of course everyone has their own thoughts. I had to have an operation which meant having my bladder removed. I now have a urostomy bag – it’s something I joke about and call my ‘Bag for Life’ but, I’m very positive and I absolutely owe my life to my consultant Mr De Souza at Monkland’s Hospital and my sanity to Maggie’s.

“Now I’m back to golfing, curling, going out for meals, looking after my grandchildren. It’s fantastic – there is nothing, I can’t do.”

To find out more about joining Helen for the Afternoon Tea at Maggie’s Lanarkshire please get in touch with Heather McArthur at heather.mcarthur@maggiescentres,org or tel 07825056385.

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