“The Social Prescribing service can help you to shrink that bit in your mind that thinks about cancer so you can think about your life”.
Sandra is a retired breast cancer survivor who lives in Tower Hamlets. She had four 1:1 sessions over the course of a year at the Bromley by Bow Centre.
“I found out about the Social Prescribing service sometime after I had completed my cancer treatment when I was back at work and a carer for my mum.
There was a lot going on in my life at that time. Lots of people who haven’t had cancer want you to get back to ‘normal’ because then it means you’re OK. But there is no getting back to normal. There is a ‘new normal’.
My social prescriber was great: really helpful and sympathetic. They helped me to think through what I needed to do to look after myself. They connected me to things like a women’s cancer support group at my local hospice, a dance class and a yoga class for people living with and beyond cancer. Thinking about your own problems can be quite isolating so attending things like the support group was great. I wouldn’t have accessed those services without their support.
What is great about the service is that it is not just about the cancer but about the whole person. When you’re going through the treatment, it’s all about the medical side. The most valuable thing was being given the space to reflect on what was going by someone who wasn’t part of my life. It gives you permission to have time for yourself and to look after yourself. The service adapted to my needs, it tailors it to the individual person.
I now do yoga twice a week and also Pilates and I go down to my local gym. I hadn’t danced since I was in school but I joined a dance class for women with cancer. Your body lets you down when you have cancer and dancing gave me confidence in my body and the opportunity to have a laugh. The temptation after cancer treatment is not to do things, but through the groups my social prescriber told me about I met people, developed friendships, felt encouraged.
It shouldn’t just be about hospital treatment to overcome the cancer. The Social Prescribing Service gives you what you need after the treatment to put a life back together again. It supports you to take on those challenges. I would say to others, the Social Prescribing service can help you to shrink that bit in your mind that thinks about cancer so you can think about your life.”