Penny Brohn: The Approach

I'm back at Penny Brohn - I signed up for The Approach pretty quickly after finishing Living Well With Cancer.  I was looking forward to some "me" time and being in a space where everyone got it, no explaining, no pretending.

There's a group of 12 again but this time, everyone in the group (apart from the carers) has secondary or metastatic cancer.  It also happens to be a group of ladies who either have primary bowel or primary breast cancer.  Looking in from the outside you'd think we were a group of ladies having a good gossip and catch up.  That's the thing about cancer, it's hidden and you can't always tell from looking at someone what's really going on.  I guess that's why we're all here.

This time there's less hiding.  Last time I did a lot of listening and not too much sharing.  It's tough.  You think a lot of things but until you verbalise it, it somehow doesn't really seem real.  It does help though.  There's a lot to process and a lot has been bottled up as I've kept myself busy trying to avoid confronting it.  You also get massive perspective as you listen to everyone's story.  Some similar, some very different but equally, heartbreakingly harrowing.

It feels like we've focussed on spirit and emotions this time.  Spirit focusses on the things that give you meaning and joy.  Emotion is the tricky one for me - expressing how you feel, acknowledging the feelings you won't allow yourself.  Even in the 1:1 session with the doctor - a full 45 mins with a medical professional - emotional wellbeing has been at the forefront.  Suddenly you're not a medical statistic but a person and the doctor is genuinely interested in you, the holistic you.  Penny Brohn is very clever in the way they've designed this programme.  There's whole group sessions, smaller, more intimate groups, individuals sessions and the luxury of space.  Space to wander the gardens and assimilate, space to sit together over tea (no coffee at Penny Brohn) and space to rest and heal.

Space has been a real luxury.  Although I live on my own, I fill my days to keep myself busy as an avoidance technique - have done since Matt passed.  Space can feel scary but here it feels safe.  It's given me the permission to be selfish and in doing so, to rejuvenate so that I feel strong again until the next course - Nurturing Resources Retreat.








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