Letchworth mother backs Cancer Talk Week

A MUM of three has spoken about her battle with cancer as part of an awareness week.

Dawn McNeilly, of Bedford Road, Letchworth GC, has pledged her support for Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Talk Week after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009.

The campaign, which starts tomorrow (Monday) and runs until Sunday, aims to encourage people affected by the disease to talk more openly about how it affects their relationships with partners, family and friends.

“It is always difficult if you have kids, even when they’re grown up, and the youngest of my three boys was 22 when I found out,” said the 49-year-old, who is currently under the care of Lister Hospital in Stevenage following treatment.

“Now they’ve accepted it, but they never talk about their fears and worries. It’s a silly scenario where we’re all protecting each other’s feelings.

“My diagnosis has brought me close to other family members too. My cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer six months after me. At first she wasn’t keen to have anything much done, but her mum advised her to talk to me. She’s had surgery, some radiotherapy and a lumpectomy.”

But Mrs McNeilly says the pressures of treatment can prove tough even for those not going through it.

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“I think, with cancer, relationships can go either way. I have seen relationships destroyed, especially if your partner feels helpless. My husband wanted to be able to make things better for me. They go through the same things emotionally, but in a different way.”

Cathryn Gort, lead cancer information specialist for Macmillan, added: “We meet a lot of patients and people caring for someone with cancer who feels like they need to be strong and bottle up their emotions. If anyone does want to talk to someone impartial or want advice on how to talk to friends and family, the Macmillan team can always help.”

The charity has a telephone service with trained professionals and the online community allows those affected to discuss issues with others going through similar experiences.

Call Macmillan Cancer Support for free on 0808 808 00 00 or visit www.macmillan.org.uk