In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week, I’ve decided to share a different side of dealing with an illness whilst at work. Hoping to inspire those in a similar situation and motivate many others on the power of positive thinking in the most challenging of times. No matter how big or small they may seem and how having the right support of your teammates can make all the difference.

There aren’t many words that can be as daunting as the word ’cancer’. I used to hear terrifying stories of people with this illness, I never ever thought it would happen to me. Being in my prime years when everything in life seemed to be going in the right direction, I felt unshakable.  Until life made a surprising turn…

Just before Christmas…

I was totally blown off my feet having been told by doctors that I have a life changing illness…I was diagnosed with cancer. I have friends and family that have battled with it and as we know, you never think it’ll happen to you.

Due to my diagnosis, the next day I had to have urgent surgery. My recovery was tough with a few challenges along the way. Although this was the case, I was extremely lucky not just to have incredible support from my partner, friends and family – but also from my #bmFamily💜💚  (specific thanks to Wendy, Lin, Angus and Sam who made regular contact to ensure I was okay).

During Christmas and the New Year period, I continued with my recovery – not really processing what I had been told. When I went back home from being in hospital for 11 days, I had the time to reflect on what had just happened to me. That’s when it hit me – I have cancer…the big C word that everyone is afraid of. I felt a tsunami of emotions but predominantly, I felt numb. It’s a tough gig indeed, but all the abrupt changes have open so many realisations in life.  With all things considered, it made me realise how lucky I am to be surrounded by family and friends who have given me nothing but unrelenting support. It made me see things from a different perspective- that positivity is the only way forward. I’d convinced myself that if I had any chance of beating this, I had to be strong – both in spirit and in mind.

From the end of January, a robust regime of chemotherapy treatment has started. As you can imagine, it’s not the nicest of circumstances but I remain strong and positive as I believe my mind is a powerful tool to help me get through this. As a testament that optimistic thinking gets you positive results, my recent scan confirmed that my tumours had reduced in size by third and that my chemotherapy is showing promising results.

A twist to my ever-exciting life story

The coronavirus pandemic started and this has posed so many challenges to us all. Undoubtedly, this has added another interesting layer to what is already quite a stressful process.  To keep me shielded from the virus whilst I continue my treatment, my partner who works as an ICU nurse, had to work away during the pandemic as he was actively treating unwell covid-19 patients. Thankfully, after 8 weeks he returned home safely as the peak had passed.

Staying Positive

The last few months have been the toughest but looking back, it revealed the best in me. And although things may never be the same again, I hope this will give us the opportunity to know ourselves, reflect on what is important to us and to be kind. I think this is a wonderful opportunity for us to be kinder and more compassionate.

The challenges we face nowadays are truly unprecedented. Let this be a platform to be grateful to people that have been supportive to each of us. We can only thrive and survive with all the changes happening around us if we support each other.

Staying Connected

We use Yapster at bartlett mitchell, which allows us to connect with our teams – both posting within the main feed photos and messages plus the instant messaging side. A Gregory’s #bmfamily💜💚 friends group was set up with key people I spoke to on a regular basis including my teams. This meant I was able to regularly update my progress and in return my teams regularly sent me supportive messages. Yapster is a great tool for us to stay connected and it has proven to be a good channel for us to show support.

I share my story on Mental Health Awareness Week as I encourage you to reach out to someone to remind them that you’re there for them and offer support. My diagnosis has challenged me both physically and mentally as you can probably imagine. I’ve drawn so much strength from messages and calls from my team, my clients and bartlett mitchell colleagues. It also goes without saying my partner, friends and family have also helped me to stay strong.

Keep well, stay safe and above all be kind.

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