I just had my 59th birthday when I had a routine mammogram. I walked in panicking because my mum had died of breast cancer when she was that age.

When I was diagnosed it was like the world stood still and I felt almost blank because it was incomprehensible at that point. I went outside and called my husband and said ‘I’ve got breast cancer’, there was this stunned silence at the other end of the phone.

Chemotherapy was without doubt the worst part of the whole experience. I went from experiencing the initial stage of shock at the diagnosis to an almost blank state. I had a month recuperating from my surgery before they started chemotherapy and it was only then the enormity of what I was going through sunk in and I started to feel very, very frightened. I felt very ground down by everything at that time I rung up The Haven.

I came to The Haven after my first chemo when I was at my lowest point. When I first walked into the lovely open space I was so relived and I felt so peaceful just from the atmosphere of the place. It was the first time I felt my shoulders starting to unwind and beginning to relax. My body felt so bashed from being cut with surgery, endlessly injected, being jabbed and weighed and all the rest of it. So to just lie there and have someone give you a massage was wonderful. The thing that will always remain with me was my sore head  - it’s a side effect people don’t normally talk about, when you hair starts to fall out from chemotherapy its quite sore from the hair pulling out – so to have someone massage my head with oil was just a wonderful, wonderful feeling.

I would say that visiting The Haven made the whole experience of having breast cancer so much more tolerable than it would have been otherwise.