New cancer centre is ‘vital’ for survivors who are ‘spat out’ from treatment

Rachael Roberts with her daughter, Eliza, six, talking to counsellor Jess French on the Seamoor Unit.
Rachael Roberts with her daughter, Eliza, six, talking to counsellor Jess French on the Seamoor Unit.

An Ilfracombe mum-of-two is supporting a £1.5million cancer and wellbeing centre appeal which she says is ‘vital for survivors’.

An Ilfracombe mum-of-two says a new cancer and wellbeing centre in North Devon is ‘vital for survivors’.

Rachael Roberts, 43, underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy after being diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2014.

But she said she felt she was ‘radically medicalised and then spat out of the machine’ with nowhere to turn once her treatment had finished.

She said: “I cannot fault the treatment and everyone at the Seamoor Unit was amazing.

“But you have all this treatment to keep you alive and actually, my quality of life now isn’t great.

“I’ve still not really recovered from my chemotherapy; I’ve got ongoing fatigue which some days is so bad I cannot get out of bed.

“With my clothes on I look normal and well, but under my clothes I feel ugly and disfigured and inside I just feel broken.”

With nowhere to turn, Rachael sought the help of Jess French, the counsellor at the Seamoor Unit in Barnstaple.

“I don’t know where I would be now without Jess,” she said.

“She was kind, she was caring, and she was just what I needed; she helped me to process it and gave me lots of little ways of dealing with things.”

The former languages teacher said the appeal by Over and Above for a new cancer and wellbeing centre was ‘vital’.

“The importance of the support centre is twofold,” she said.

“One, to help survivors to rehabilitate themselves, body and mind, find a new normal and move on.

“And two, to help us to deal with the omnipresent threat of recurrence, and somehow strike a very fine balance between awareness and overthinking.

“This is so desperately needed in North Devon.

“People who have a terminal diagnosis, of any condition, receive much needed support from the hospice, but there isn’t really anything for cancer survivors in this area.”

Jess has also helped to counsel Rachael’s daughter Eliza, six.

Over and Above is hoping to raise £1.5million to build the new cancer and wellbeing centre at North Devon District Hospital.

It will provide support for cancer patients past and present, and be able to offer the expansion of services such as counselling.

For further information about the hospital charity Over and Above contact the Hospital Fundraising Team on 01271 311772 or ndht.charity@nhs.net or visit the website overandabove.org.uk

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