Having breast cancer affected my whole family. At the beginning I cried a lot on my own and my husband found it very difficult. We told our two young boys that I was poorly – trying to be honest but without going into too much detail. I bought a book to show them but couldn’t bring myself to read it to them. My ten year old took it quite badly and the younger became very clingy. We tried to keep life as normal as possible for them.

I had a mastectomy with reconstruction which took 12 hours, after which I had infection after infection, including fluid buildup in my breast. I tried to stay strong and hold the family together – as a mum I felt that I just had to get on with things, but I started to go downhill. I felt that I had been left on my own with no support. At times I just needed reassurance that everything was ‘normal’ and simple advice about things like how to care for my scar, but I didn’t know where to go for it. I felt a bit ‘passed around’ from Hospital to Consultant to GP. I’m generally a really positive person but something like this can really knock you for six.

I felt depressed and as if I was coping alone and after I completely lost it one day on a phone-call to my friend, she said “You have to call this number NOW”! That number was for The Haven.

The Haven is calm, caring and relaxing place where you never feel rushed. Seeing the nurse for the first time was a relief. I just asked lots of questions and she listened and reassured me. They wrote to one of my consultants about what treatments I was having and when I next saw him he was pleased to hear that I was receiving reliable aftercare.

At The Haven I have had counselling – there a lot of things you need to get your head around and it helps to talk to a professional. The nutritional therapist gave me good advice about keeping my energy levels and immune system up and my chlorestol down. Deep tissue massage really helped my scars and the therapist gave me some helpful advice about how to look after the scars and how to minimize them.

I have complete trust in The Haven. I know I can ask them questions and get direct answers. I have been taught how to deal with my illness and how to look after myself and I feel like I have begun my healing journey both mentally and physically.If my friend hadn’t given me The Haven’s number, I honestly don’t know where I would be today. Coming here has helped me to get on with life for myself and my family.

My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer this year and she now comes to the Haven with me. As well as her treatments, she also likes to come here and sit in the library and have a chat with the other women. Everyone has been very kind and caring for with her and given her lots of time.

Now, I have had my third operation and I feel more in control. I returned to work part time in my job in the City after about 6 months and my team has been great. I like to stay busy – something I’ve learnt from this is that there’s no point in letting life pass you by.