When I was diagnosed with Stage IV prostate cancer seven years ago, I saw a psychologist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on a weekly and sometimes twice weekly basis, to help me deal with the emotional upheaval that my diagnosis created. On the psychologist’s recommendation, I joined the Monday night Life Force patients’ and survivors’ support group and have been going regularly for about five years.
Not long after this, I also joined the carers’ support group because I have a long-term friend who has cancer and my dad also had it. Even though I didn’t reveal my diagnosis to this group for about three years, I found the support from other carers still helped me manage the anxieties about my own situation.
After becoming very good friends with another member of the Monday night patients’ group, we eventually became a couple and as her cancer progressed I found it really comforting to be a part of the carers’ group. It’s just over a year since she died and with this group’s support, I am now just starting to feel slightly less overwhelmed by my grief.
The counselling provided by Enisa and Jane is very helpful and Caro’s meditations that are part of every meeting are great. Having watched my partner die, it’s only natural that I get anxious about what my end will be like and even though my cancer is progressing, the weekly meetings and meditations help me to cope with the inevitable stress and fear that I live with.
I’ve been to several of Life Force’s residential retreats and have found these to be an amazing experience. They are held in peaceful rural locations away from the busyness of the city. Everything is included in the cost: comfortable rooms, delicious food, yoga, massage and various therapeutic activities. Even though my cancer is terminal I always go home from a Life Force retreat feeling calmer and stronger and more able to face whatever lies ahead.
I think these retreats are run at cost price only because cancer often adversely affects a person’s financial situation, but I personally believe they are worth twice what participants pay! It would be wonderful if there could be some kind of corporate sponsorship to allow people who can’t afford even the minimal cost to benefit from these weekends.