Meet Vicky...

Vicky, throat cancer

When were you diagnosed and what with?

Diagnosed with throat cancer on 12th September 2017.

How did you find out you had cancer?

I was told by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) consultant. I was going back to see him for some “routine” results from an endoscopy. He was expecting the endoscopy to show that I had a cyst or infection in my throat, not cancer. I attended the appointment on my own, as I never expected to hear the word cancer.  I was devastated.

What did you think and feel when you were diagnosed?

“Oh my God, my children are going to grow up without their mum. My parents will be devastated. How long have I got?”

It was absolutely the worst few hours of my life. It was only when I got home that I felt I HAD to be strong and that only I could get myself through this.

How did the people around you react?

Absolutely shocked and destroyed. My husband was crying – something I never thought I would see. My mum was totally inconsolable for a few days. It was only once the news had sunk in that we all heard words of support and advice from friends and family, and we started to realise we could beat this.  

What treatment did you have?

I had thirty sessions of radiotherapy.

How did you feel through treatment?

I felt well cared for and I didn’t suffer too badly with side effects during treatment. I got a little tired towards the end of treatment, but partly because the hospital journey was an hour each way every day.  

What happened after treatment finished?

I felt worse after treatment than I did during. More side effects kicked in – my throat was very painful. I couldn’t eat at all for two months, was on strong painkillers, lost two stone and couldn’t taste mush even if I could eat. I was very tired and feeling low.  

How did you get involved with Shine?

Someone recommended Shine to me, so I joined the Facebook group.

What difference has Shine made to you?

Huge! It’s so important, knowing that there are people who understand how I am feeling if I post a comment. There are meet ups available but as of yet, I haven’t managed to attend. It is the right level of support for a younger adult –other support groups can be too full on and geared towards supporting older people. Shine gets the support level right!

How do you feel now about your experiences? What‘s been the biggest change you’ve faced?

I decided to slow down work wise after my diagnosis. I resigned from my job, decided to take some time out and start my own business. I get more tired than before and I need to accept that. I struggled to accept that my fitness level had suffered a little during and after treatment, but I am building back up again.

The experience has made me reassess life and, in particular, the fast pace of my life. I’m still feeling emotionally scarred and am getting support from a counsellor and attending a retreat in a few weeks which I am looking forward to.

I do think there is a gap in medical care once treatment has finished. I felt I needed support post-treatment and when I went looking for support, I did find it, but it’s not readily passed to you.

If you could give one piece of advice to yourself before your what would it be?

Trust the medical teams. I didn’t believe what they were telling me for a while, and often jumped on Google – not a good idea! Also trust my own body…it’s a fighter!