Hope for better times

It was in December 2006 when my life was changed forever. My consultant gave me the most dreadful and frightening news that I had Osteosarcoma, an aggressive cancer in my jaw bone.

" The day itself was more than I could have ever imagined. I don’t think anyone will ever comprehend just how much of an impact this day had on my emotional health, wellbeing and, in the longer term, my physical recovery. "

Jan, 31, living with osteosarcoma

I can still recall the absolute terror I felt as I sat in the room; it felt like the walls were suddenly closing in around me and immediately I thought that I was going to die.

Within a fairly short period of time my tumour had grown. I was in excruciating pain; I couldn’t eat, sleep and found it more and more difficult to summon up the emotional and physical strength each time I had to return for more treatment.

Finally, after six months, my life saving surgery took place. The tumour was removed and bone grafts were taken from my leg to reconstruct my jaw along with a titanium plate.
I was finding it extremely difficult to come to terms with all the emotional and physical changes the cancer had imposed upon me, with visible scars, hair loss, and a mouth which didn’t function in the same way. I couldn’t even look in a mirror; I had changed so much over the past year.

It was during this time I decided to apply for a Special Day. I was apprehensive but also excited at the prospect of a tiny glimpse of happiness. I chose a trip to London to watch ‘The Sound of Music’ and asked if it would be possible to meet the star of the show Connie Fisher, (pictured with Jan below).

I can still remember the sheer delight and buzz I felt when I received the call from Willow to tell me I was having my Special Day. Up until this point I couldn’t see any future or way forward. My confidence and self esteem were completely shattered, but this was it; the turning point in my recovery.

Then my Special Day arrived. We enjoyed afternoon tea at the Dorchester Hotel, followed by a fantastic performance which bought me to tears. More emotion was to follow when I went backstage to meet Connie, who was absolutely lovely.

My Special Day had been a complete whirlwind of emotions. At that moment the worries, pain, uncertainty of life and frequent terrifying experiences I had faced over the past year felt like a lifetime ago. I felt normal again, purposeful and empowered.

The day itself was more than I could have ever imagined. I don’t think anyone will ever comprehend just how much of an impact this day had on my emotional health, wellbeing and, in the longer term, my physical recovery. It helped me to see that there was some optimism, positivity and hope for better times and life itself.

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