Crucial support during lifesaving treatment.
Michelle has spent her entire career caring for others. After qualifying as a nurse in 1979, she worked in the RAF, in hospitals and nursing homes, at the Royal School for the Deaf as well as 9 years nursing in America. Her most recent role was as a senior carer in a UK residential home.
Whilst in America, Michelle received treatment for breast cancer which was successful at the time. However, in April 2015 the cancer returned in a more aggressive form which meant she needed lymph nodes removing and a bilateral mastectomy, with intensive courses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The diagnosis and treatment left her devastated and despite having friends and family nearby, she felt very isolated and alone.
“It felt like I was in a battle with the cancer, fighting with it. I was so scared of both the treatment and the side effects. I was not only exhausted all the time and in pain, but emotionally I felt vulnerable and scared, each day was such a struggle.”
Her diagnosis and treatment meant Michelle had to stop working in May 2015 and the financial impact of this was huge. As well as going from her full time salary to Statutory Sick Pay, Michelle also incurred costs relating to her treatment.
“I was struggling to pay rent and bills and then there were extra travel costs to and from hospital for treatment and increased heating bills as I was at home all day feeling sick.”
The stress and anxiety of her financial situation became overwhelming for Michelle and this is where Cavell Nurses’ Trust was able to help. Michelle had never asked for help before and was worried the process would be difficult and humiliating. However, she was pleasantly surprised,
“The application process was straightforward and the help I received was not just financial. I was in a very dark place, but suddenly I had hope. I really wondered how on earth I’d get through my chemotherapy treatment, but knowing that there were people who wanted to help me was humbling and extraordinary.”
Cavell Nurses’ Trust worked with other nursing charities to ensure that her bills were paid and Michelle was able to focus on recovering without suffering additional financial stress.
“I was having chemotherapy when Cavell Nurses’ Trust phoned to confirm the support. The chemo treatment was particularly traumatic and painful, but as I heard the good news about the award that was being given, the pain just vanished! Life suddenly seemed very much more hopeful, it was just amazing.”
It’s been a few years since Michelle’s life-saving treatment but she still deals with the emotional trauma every day. However, painting is her outlet and it’s a hobby she has enjoyed for many years.
“My art makes me so happy! It relaxes my soul and when I am painting I am at peace with myself.”
Always keen to support others, Michelle now uses her experience of battling cancer in her role as a group leader for a local cancer support group charity, helping and guiding people through the frightening and life-changing process of cancer treatment.
Michelle’s putting her artistic skills to good use too, becoming a Dementia Friends Champion, raising awareness of the disease and using her qualification as a holistic therapist in colour therapy to create artistic activities for dementia patients in local nursing homes, benefitting their wellbeing.
“I’ve been told by relatives and staff that the difference my activities make is really beneficial to all. I am so happy because all I want to do is make people feel better within themselves and enhance their quality of life.”
"My journey through cancer was so tough but after everything that has happened, it’s so reassuring to know that I’m not alone and that Cavell Nurses’ Trust are there as a safety net to catch me if I fall.”
You can read more about Michelle’s fight against cancer in her own words on her blog http://michelemarie.simplesite.com/418482568