My cancer has changed me

Mother-of-one, Sarah was 32 when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer in November 2013. She asked Willow to help organise a party for her friends and family as a way of saying thank you for their help and support during her treatment.

"Before my cancer diagnosis, life was pretty normal. I had been happily married for nearly 10 years, we had a beautiful two-year-old daughter and were thinking about baby number two when “WHAM”, cancer entered our lives.

Life became a blur of hospital appointments, scans, bloods and oncology. Literally, one day I was at work and the next day, all hell broke loose. I lost track of the days, I lost track of my identity and most importantly I felt I lost all control over who I was and what was happening to me. However, I was given choice over my treatment and my hospital team were amazing, I was heavily guided towards the best treatment plan.

I heard about Willow after a friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer. She chose a sky dive for her Special Day (something I would never do) and she reminded me about the charity.

I wanted my Special Day to be about everyone who had helped me and my family through the trauma of the past 14 months. I decided that I would like to hold a big party with music, dancing and food as this was my way of saying thank you to all my family and friends for their love and support.

Planning my Special Day helped me to gain some control over my life. Most of all, it gave me something to look forward to and for me it marked the end of my cancer journey. It drew a line under a chapter in my life.

" Having my Special Day has bought my family and friends closer together. The last time I had so many people together was at our wedding 10 years previously "

Sarah

The evening was fantastic. For me, it was the perfect night. I remember when I stood up to say thank you to a few people, I looked around the room and saw everyone I loved and cared for. There were a few tears being wiped away. My most treasured memory from it all was seeing all my favourite people were in one room.

Life is different now. Not bad different, not good different, just different. I have a new definition of normal. After being off work for just over a year, I am on a phased return. It’s tiring but I know in time my strength will return and one day I will be back to full speed.

My priorities have changed. I cherish the smaller things now and don’t sweat the small stuff so much anymore. Most importantly, I have discovered who my real friends are. I have made new friends through this cancer journey and unfortunately I have lost friends too. For me cancer is a chapter in my life not a defining event. It has changed me but it will not rule me.

Having my Special Day, I think, has bought my family and friends closer together. The last time I had so many people together was at our wedding 10 years previously. It’s not often everyone you love is in the same room – although next time I host a party I hope it will be for very different reasons."

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