Three years ago I was diagnosed with stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I was told it was incurable but could be contained, for some years, after chemotherapy. I had six months of chemotherapy at a hospital in Surrey.

After I was discharged from hospital and my regular check-ups had been put in place, my consultant advised me to try and put the cancer to one side and to do something completely different. It was a difficult decision to move from Surrey to Somerset, mainly because it meant leaving my younger daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, but also because I was still feeling quite weak. My older daughter lives in Frome, so it made sense to be near a family member for support.

I was introduced to WHY when I arrived in Frome. I had attended some supportive WHY coffee mornings, at the Cheese and Grain, just before the first lockdown. A WHY counsellor regularly phoned me during lockdown to offer me counselling. I really appreciated the calls and support, but didn’t feel I needed one-to-one counselling at that time. I had decided to attend WHYoutdoors after lockdowns.

I signed up for WHYoutdoors and started a course at Chesterblade, in 2021. Chesterblade has a wonderful countryside setting, with a communal barn, close by to Frome.

I live on my own and moving to a new area, I thought the course would be a great way to meet new people in a similar position.

I did analyse why I wanted/needed to attend the course, as I had been in remission for two years. I did feel guilty that I may have taken a place from someone who needed the support more than me.

However, I was really pleased I went and would highly recommend WHYoutdoors to anyone, whatever the stage they are at with their cancer treatment.

Looking back, I hadn’t realised how the cancer diagnosis, chemotherapy and side-effects of the treatment  had taken over my life and how anxious I had become. I thought I was coping, but was concerned that I was becoming a ‘burden’ to my family and friends. My daughters, family and friends have been amazing and so supportive, but I felt it was important to do something on my own and regain some independence.

WHYoutdoors is run by trained, kind and understanding counsellors. They based the course on how nature can help with ‘wellness’. I found the course therapeutic and enjoyed meeting other people and hearing how they were coping with cancer and their treatments. 

Once I had finished the course, I didn’t have an immediate sense of independence, but several months on, I now appreciate how the course helped me put things into perspective, and I now feel more at peace with myself.

I would like to thank everyone one at WHY for their amazing work and I am so grateful that Somerset offers such great support.

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