Written by Samantha Lade, DonateToday
Published: Tuesday, 19th December 2017

Diagnosed with breast cancer three weeks after her engagement, it took Jackie Scully all her strength and the help of Breast Cancer Haven to recover

Diagnosed with breast cancer three weeks after her engagement, it took Jackie Scully all her strength and the help of Breast Cancer Haven to recover

Written by ##author:samanthalade## for DonateToday

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Last year, Breast Cancer Haven gave roughly 18, 693 hours of support to women like Jackie (pictured above)

She spent 2014 receiving treatment, rather than planning her dream wedding. But whilst the hospital fought her disease, it was the Breast Cancer Haven that helped repair Jackie's psychological health, putting her 'back together again'.

A Shock Diagnosis

‘There are many things I thought I’d be planning three weeks after getting engaged to my boyfriend of 13 years,’ says Jackie Scully. 

‘But, I must confess, a mastectomy wasn’t one of them.’

After finding a lump in the shower on Christmas Eve of 2013, Jackie initially thought little of her surprise discovery. Instead, she drank champagne and spoke with her new fiancé about how the upcoming year would be their greatest yet.

But the news that came next devastated her world. With the current lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer affecting one in every eight women in the UK – Jackie became that one individual. Her lump was cancerous.

There was no way for her to prepare mentally or physically for the battles she was about to face. 

Nearly 60,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, as well as 350 men.

- Breast Cancer Haven, 2016

After completing her mastectomy, Jackie then faced weeks of injections for fertility preservation, began to lose her hair, and discovered strange skin marks as a result of radiotherapy. 

Instead of planning her dream wedding as she should have been, Jackie spent the remainder of 2014 bravely fighting the clutches of cancer.

A Heavenly Retreat

Yet, looking back on that challenging 11 months, it's not just the physical pain or anguish that Jackie remembers – but the psychological torment that came alongside the disease.

‘It wasn’t the surgery, the hospitals or the pain I had to fear,’ explains Jackie. 

‘It was the times when I was alone, struggling with my mind, my rehab and my weight gain’. 

Breast Cancer Haven have services in 7 different locations across England

This is where the help of the Breast Cancer Haven came in, at one of the most crucial times on Jackie’s journey.

At their five centres across the UK, the charity cares for women receiving cancer treatment by offering emotional, physical and practical support – through a range of therapies, advice, techniques and classes – which Jackie regularly took part in.

‘I want to tell you about the Look Good, Feel Better course held at Breast Cancer Haven where I finally learned how to apply green primer without resembling Kermit the Frog, and the Shiatsu that helped my whole body relax,' says Jackie.

"I didn’t feel like a cancer sufferer. I felt like a friend." 

- Jackie Scully

'I want to tell you about the delicious beef and prune casserole from Breast Cancer Haven’s recipe book that helped me go the toilet, when I thought I'd never go again.’

To Jackie, the Breast Cancer Haven became a sanctuary – the one place where she didn’t feel relegated to the status of just a body, a patient, or a passive observer of her own cancer battle. 

Speaking of her experience, she says: ‘With its promise of appointments without anxiety or anaesthetic, I didn’t feel like a cancer sufferer. I felt like a friend.’ 

Providing Crucial Care

In the UK alone, there are an estimated 550,000 women – and men – currently fighting breast cancer. But whilst more and more people are surviving for longer, research suggests that this figure will double by 2030.

This means that in just ten years’ time, it is projected that over 1.1 million people will be living with the disease.

Jackie continues to stand by the fact that Breast Cancer Haven’s support was key to her personal recovery journey – unsure of where she would be without their support services and therapies. 

‘Breast Cancer Haven helped me focus on my smile and let my hospital care team get on with fighting the cancer,' says Jackie.

‘Breast cancer stripped me bare and while I will be forever grateful to the people who saved my life – it was Breast Cancer Haven that put me back together again.’