“Once I started to visit SolarisCare I could not stop. It is a place I could look forward to going to each week. It was an outing each week that gave me such a positive experience. There was no chance of hearing bad news at SolarisCare it was a really important place for respite from any invasive treatments.”
Crook was diagnosed with breast cancer at a point in her life when
everything seemed to be going well. A successful and talented woman, she faced her diagnosis bravely and appreciated the support offered by SolarisCare. Here’s Robina’s story.
to Keep Things Normal
Life was working out. I was passionate about
my job and most importantly, my partner and I had moved in together and were
starting to make lots of lovely plans for the future.
I still remember my
diagnosis, I was referred to a breast clinic by a doctor but life was hectic
and work was busy, a trip to the doctor just seemed more of an
inconvenience. I had these scares before
and they had ended up being nothing so all the time remained surprising calm. However
this time was different, within days things started to unravel.
I don’t remember
telling my partner I was diagnosed with breast cancer, we think we probably nervously
laughed about it, and decided just to do all we could to fix it. Telling my
family was harder, we had to overcome the vast distance between us and the
tough exterior associated with being farmers.
During it all I was
still calm. Determined to keep working and have a sense of purpose in my life. As
I progressed down this journey, I knew more and became more frightened. Life
took on this strange give and take momentum.
Treatment started, it
was scary. Surgery followed by the need for chemotherapy, this is when my life
really started to change; I was told I could not have children naturally. Tears
became the norm.
chemotherapy, radiation therapy and a mastectomy were going to give me a chance
at life, but it was also taking away our chance of a family and my femininity. Chemotherapy
had taken my hair, my chance at continuing my work and it affected my ability
to regulate my body temperature.
I fell into a bit of
a hole. While I was terrified, I had previously been able to get myself out of
bed and go to work but now it seemed like everything was being taken from me.
It is when life seems
a bit too hard that magical things can happen. Friends and family helped in any
way they could. It was such a comfort to my partner and I to have a constant
flow of friends sending us messages, food or sitting with us. To help, I
enrolled in a meditation course; I just wanted to find a way to slow down my
mind, this was when I was introduced to SolarisCare.
Once I started to
visit SolarisCare I could not stop. It is a place I could look forward to going
to each week. It was an outing each week that gave me such a positive
experience. There was no chance of hearing bad news at SolarisCare it was
a really important place for respite from any invasive treatments.
When diagnosed and
going through treatment, it can be difficult to see family, friends and
colleagues. Often, unintentionally they would say something to make me cry.
Interaction with people became an emotional minefield. At SolarisCare, each
appointment is one hour of rest and relaxation with no chance of emotional
I decided that I
needed to give myself a chance to recover in the best possible way. Recovery
for me included stilling my mind, massage and reflexology was an important part
of that. Each week I managed to get myself off the couch to go see the positive
and happy team at SolarisCare. Over the last year, the volunteers at
SolarisCare have gotten to know me well and I really look forward to seeing
them each week.
The volunteers would
tell me how they managed to recover a passion for life after their experience
with cancer. One wonderful volunteer at SolarisCare brought in her needle-work
she had created during her treatment. It was beautiful and inspired me to
be creative. I decided to enter into a costume competition. This was a
wonderful way of focusing on something other than me. I named my costume
“Alarum (Latin: wings)” it represented a colourful and beautiful metamorphoses
rather than the one I felt I was going through.
Now, my partner and I
are beginning to explore our options for a family. I never thought I would be
in this situation and it seems very surreal. For us family is about a group of
people that love and care for each other, it can come in many different forms.
We don’t know where this will lead us.
But what we do know,
together we will make the most of it, whatever comes our way.
experience is such that it has motivated me to willingly volunteer to support
the Foundation to raise the much needed funds for this incredible free support
service to continue.
I am proud to be a
2015 SolarisCare Dry July ambassador and encourage the community to sign up or donate.