Women who overcame cancer offer lifeline to other sufferers
HAVING beaten cancer herself, Danielle Jones knows all about the support necessary to help patients get through their ordeals.
Which is why she, and friend Tina Smith, have launched a new support group, Forward and Beyond, which will be run by people who have suffered themselves, to provide much needed help and care for those cancer patients currently in treatment and for those who have beaten the disease.
From her own experiences of being treated for breast cancer, Danielle, aged 41, believes there was something missing from her treatment which the hospital was unable to offer her.
She said: "There is no support at the end of the treatment, no light at the end of the tunnel. I was thinking to myself, 'what am I going to do now?' There's a huge gap that needs filling.
"The staff at the hospital and the chemotherapy ward had been absolutely fantastic. In February last year I noticed a lump in my breast. I went to get it checked out and the process was very quick.
"Within two weeks, I had had a biopsy, a mammogram and finally an operation at the beginning of March.
"I had a bit of a recovery period after the operation and the chemotherapy began at the end of April. That was the worst bit, the waiting and not knowing. It was horrendous.
"It's not just the physical aspects, there are mental ones too – you just hit rock bottom.
"The chemo finished up at the end of August and I began radiotherapy for four and a half weeks to prevent it from returning."
And the single mother-of-one explained what a strain her long ordeal, which with the continued check-ups has lasted around 20 months, had been on herself and her family.
"It was a struggle, as you don't tell them what you want to tell them to try to protect them. But my mother accompanied me several times, she has been my rock," she added.
Danielle, from Wolstanton, revealed that her experiences had a massive effect on her decision to set up the support and care group for those suffering through the treatment and to help them deal with the confusion of the aftermath.
She said: "Hospitals cannot accommodate for everything, so we wanted a more personal environment, somewhere non-hospital.
"We've all been through cancer ourselves and it is so much easier to relate to people who have been through the same thing.
"We are a group for cancer patients run by cancer patients. A friendly listening group to help each other through our journey before and after treatment.
"We are not just aimed at women, everyone touched by cancer is welcome. We will hopefully be setting something up for the families too."
Danielle and co-founder Tina, from Adderley Green, launched Forward and Beyond earlier this month at Heath House Farm, in Forsbrook, where they are now based.
Various activities were arranged for the day to celebrate the launch and raise the profile of their support group.
Danielle said: "There was tea, coffee and cakes and we also had a raffle because so many prizes were donated.
"Tina also showcased some of her crafts.
"At the moment we are just a support network, but if we raise enough funds we can organise lots more activities.
"We will give workshops on the internet to help people socialise or even do their shopping and we are hoping to get a minibus for days out or to help bring people to us.
"We are also looking in to flower arranging and beauty and skin care too.
"We also offer help in finding work after treatment has finished which is very important."
Currently unemployed due to her ordeal, Danielle, who formerly worked in administration and accounts, believes she is now at the stage where she can return to work.
She said: "I'm so passionate about Forward and Beyond and it will take up a lot of my time, but I feel I'm at that place now to get back in to work."
With more than 250,000 people being diagnosed with different forms of cancer across England every year, support groups such as Forward and Beyond are becoming more and more vital in helping people overcome this disease.
To find out more, call Danielle on 07989 888041.