IT WAS only when her treatment was over that breast cancer survivor Corinna Looker realised how much support groups could help.
The 50-year-old from Stratton was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease in December 2009, and although doctors caught it early she still had to go through six weeks of chemotherapy and four weeks of radiotherapy.
She said: “I was diagnosed in December 2009 with breast cancer and I was quite fortunate that it was found early. But it was a grade three which is an aggressive form.
“I was lucky enough to have a husband who could pay for BUPA and I got my treatment at the Ridgeway Hospital, which had a cancer support group which I went to. But people who were on the NHS weren’t really allowed to be there.
“It was only because I was lucky enough to have received my treatment privately.
“I just felt that there’s a lot of people out there who might benefit from a support group like this one, and there should be something for everybody to go to, not just those who are lucky enough to go private.”
As a result, Corinna and some other cancer survivors set up their own support group open to people whether they were on private medical care or on the NHS.
“Cancer is a journey. When you first get diagnosed you have a great network of friends and family that support you. Quite often it’s after all that when it all suddenly stops, and you have to go back to ‘normal’ that you need a support group.
“You have to find a new normal, and if you can find other people who are perhaps a little bit further along the journey just to talk about your own experiences. It can also be quite useful to meet and talk to people who are around four years along the road from you to see that we are still here and having fun.”
The new group, which is open to all people going through cancer, meets on the first Thursday of every month at the Rat Trap in Highworth Road.
Corinna said: “The Rat Trap is my local pub so I asked Marc if I could have his pub for the support group.
“So far we have 11 or 12 people come along but I wanted to make more people aware that we are here for them. I’d like to think we can put people in touch with other people that have been through very similar things.
“We all have the same emotions us women even though we might have slightly different experiences of cancer. It’s just a space to meet up and talk about it.”