Carly was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of 26: she came to the Cavendish for sessions of reflexology and healing between having treatment and working. She has since become Events Manager at the local Abbeydale Brewery, and has rallied together a team to run in the Sheffield 10k in aid of Cavendish.
“I was diagnosed in April 2015. I’d found a lump on my collarbone so I had a few tests, and they told me I’d get the results in two to three weeks. I’d convinced myself it couldn’t be anything serious, because I’d had a cold so I thought it was just a swollen gland, and I thought if it was serious they wouldn’t leave it two weeks.
“I got to my doctor’s appointment, and didn’t realise anything about his demeanour at the time, but looking back I think I can tell it wasn’t right. I was sat with the doctor and my mum – he told me my results had come back and it was Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My first reaction was ‘ok; well do I have antibiotics for that?’ My mum burst into tears and at that point I looked at her, then the doctor, and realised maybe it wasn’t as ok as I thought.
It didn’t feel real. It happened to me but it doesn’t feel like it happened to me, almost as if I was watching it.
“It was a bit of a whirlwind. I’m normally one who likes to be prepared and organised but I didn’t google a single thing. I remember people asking me questions, but I hadn’t read the information. So I’d tell them to look it up, and if it’s not bad tell me, but if it is bad then don’t. I never read any information on chemo because I thought if it happens, it happens and if it doesn’t then it doesn’t need worrying about.
“I already knew of Cavendish Cancer Care because one of the therapists, Janet, had been a family friend since I was eight years old. We’d been involved and fundraised for them before and I’d also benefited from Janet’s support when I was younger, so I came to the Cavendish pretty much straight away when my treatment started.
“I had around six months of chemotherapy followed by three weeks of radiotherapy. My sessions at Cavendish were all about me and keeping my body as healthy as possible through this process. You typically think of someone going through chemo as really sick and nauseous, but I only got that towards the end of my treatment. The chemo would shake me up and make me feel a bit woozy, but because I interspersed it with my sessions at Cavendish I could physically still do things and it helped keep my energy levels up.
I used to book my Cavendish sessions in the middle of the day on Wednesday so I could take a break from work. It was just a great feeling to know it would be ok because I’d be going to Cavendish and having a bit of me time to refresh and replenish.
“Sessions at Cavendish helped me clear my head; although I didn’t feel like I needed counselling, I knew that it was available to me or my family and friends. I have a very open relationship with my family and friends, and we all have a bit of a dark sense of humour. I sometimes think I was a bit too cavalier with some people in terms of humour and my attitude towards it, but I got through it the way I got through it.
“I had only been working at Abbeydale for a couple of months when I started floating the idea around that we should do something for Cavendish. I didn’t know everyone particularly well and they didn’t know my history, so it is true testament to their character that people were quickly on board. We’re now up to 10 runners and people are always welcome to join us. The training has been incredibly tough… we work in brewery for goodness sake, beer is all around us!
“Cavendish Cancer Care doesn’t get major press coverage and there are so many charities out there. I’m a big believer that Abbeydale Brewery and the two pubs should each have a charity for the year to support and Cavendish is a perfect fit for us. People just need to be more aware of it – I was lucky that I already was when I got my cancer. It’s something that makes me want to give back, and say thank you for being there for me and being there for other people.”
What if Cavendish hadn’t been there for me?
I’d say making the choice to come to Cavendish and continue working were the best things I ever did. They helped me get through it. Coming to Cavendish was never an event or made a big deal of. It’s a safe space, calming and welcoming. Everything is explained so well and dealt with in a great manner so that it’s not scary or foreign.
“The problem is Cavendish Cancer Care is a charity, relying on the generosity of local people to keep their doors open. I can see people’s lives being dramatically affected if Cavendish wasn’t here – especially those that have a long term illness or are in a situation where it happens and happens again. I don’t know how they’d cope without somewhere like Cavendish to provide support to them and their family.
I don’t think people realise how valuable Cavendish is. I wasn’t picking between Cavendish and somewhere else to go for respite and rejuvenation, it’s invaluable because there’s nothing else like it.”