CANCER UNITED: Being diagnosed with the ‘big C’ isn’t the end

Cancer survivor Jan Sheward raises a glass in celebration
Cancer survivor Jan Sheward raises a glass in celebration

THIS week the Gazette caught up with Jan Sheward, the founder of an Angmering cancer support charity, to find out just what it is like to be diagnosed with the disease and how there is a full life after diagnosis.

From the moment a doctor says, ‘I am very sorry to tell you that you have cancer’ everything that you have known in your life as normal ceases to be normal.

When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 I was the head of a food manufacturing company and seemingly very fit. I ate very healthy, I didn’t smoke and I enjoyed exercising and going to the gym three times a week.

From the moment you are diagnosed, the cancer pathway takes you through lots of medical interventions over which you have no control.

The treatment goes on seemingly forever; doctors and nurses seem to be taking over your life and hospital visits begin to feel like normal.

Suddenly at whatever stage it is decided that the treatment is over you are expected to pick up your life as it was and continue as if nothing had ever happened!

Of course that is not easy and for some without help and support it is impossible.

I was lucky that I found the cancer myself which shows how important it is to know your own body and to examine it on a regular basis.

My fitness helped me through the cancer and my treatment and without doubt, I would not have got through it so easily if I hadn’t have been so fit.

I have always been a positive strong person and I felt I wanted to do something to help others who perhaps weren’t as strong or positive.

Isn’t it funny how when you are hit by a personal tragedy you suddenly want to help others?

Although I became a Campaigns Ambassador for Cancer Research UK and I met some amazing people and worked hard for the charity it wasn’t quite enough as I didn’t get to help people first hand so in 2012

I started Cancer United a support group for all those whose lives have been affected by cancer and what I have learned is that ‘united’ we are truly strong – alone we may struggle to be so. . .

For those looking for more details about Cancer United’s services and how it can help, see here.

Cancer United will be supplying regular columns to keep you up-to-date with the latest developments at the charity.