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Laura and Alan became Nightingale clients in 2022 after Alan was diagnosed with lymphoma. Their interview shows the different impact a cancer diagnosis can have on two people.

What led up to Alan’s diagnosis?

Laura: At night Alan started to experience a lot of itching on his arms, consistent itching.

Alan: I thought I had an allergic reaction. I’ve never had itching like it.

Laura: Nothing calmed it down. Then Alan found a lump.

Alan: I was sitting in the car, scratched my chest and there was a lump. It didn’t hurt even when I put pressure on it so I didn’t think too much about it for a couple of days.

As I had already had prostate cancer I thought I should probably check it out so I went to the doctor and he sent me for a CT scan. I could tell by the doctor’s face that he could see something. He said, ‘Normally we wait two weeks to get the results but if you haven’t heard anything by Monday, ring your doctor and tell them to give us a call.’

Monday came and I got a call from the doctor and they thought the lump was sarcoma but they couldn’t see where it was coming from. An MRI and biopsy later and I get a call while driving home from work. ‘It’s not sarcoma it’s lymphoma.’


During all of the appointments and scans did either of you think it was cancer?

L: I thought it was a cyst because Alan said it didn’t hurt so I wasn’t worried at that point. When Alan told me and the children we were all in complete shock. You hear about cancer but don’t know too much about it until you experience someone going through it. At that point you can’t even think straight. It’s as if it’s a dream.

A: When they first told me I had prostate cancer that was the worst but this one was really bad. Lymphoma could wipe me out quite quickly. Two lots of cancer is unlucky but I tried to make it into a joke, ‘Buy one get one free’.


How was the cancer treatment?

A: I didn’t know what to expect. I remember the first thing I asked was, ‘Will I lose my hair?’. That was a big concern. The worst part of chemo was that my white blood cells came back really quickly and the pain was shooting in my body. I thought I was having a heart attack, lying on the floor at three am.

L: Apparently that is a good sign but we didn’t know that when it happened. We were in a big panic.

A: That was the most frightening time. Once I knew what it was it wasn’t as bad.

L: I  think overall Alan dealt with it really well. We had heard some horror stories.

A: Yeah, someone would say, ‘Oh, my friend had that’. I’d say, ‘How is he?’. ‘Well, he’s dead.’. Thanks for telling me that, cheered me up no end!

L: You dealt with it very well.


How did the diagnosis affect your relationships?

L: In a sense a positive came out of it because it brought us closer together as a family. You end up appreciating that person more because of what they’re going through. Our daughter shaved her hair for charity! She was very sympathetic but we had to explain that she had to be sensitive with Alan because he was fragile.

A: My step son and sister took me to the hospital quite a few times and Laura did when she could.

L: My mum would take you sometimes too.

A: Oh yes my mother in law would drive me. Everyone in our lives really helped out.


What happened when the treatment was over?

A: When you see the doctor they say that the treatment is finished but now you’re in recovery. You expect to be perfect but you’re not.

L: And you’re still going through recovery now. Alan is still building up his immune system and with our daughter at nursery she can pick up all types of colds. For Alan a cold might last for two weeks and turn into a throat infection.

A: If I was to knock myself on the edge of the table I’d get a bruise or cut. It’s coming up to two years since I started the chemo but you still get bits and pieces can take a long time to get back to normal.


How did you find out about The Nightingale?

L: We were walking past weren’t we?

A: We were in the charity shop over the road and wondered what the charity did. We came in and spoke to a lady who explained it all.

L: It was Fiona we saw and she was so welcoming. We made an appointment for our assessment and she gave us all the information for the services. We thought it looked really good and it came at a brilliant time.


Had you thought that you needed support?

A: Yeah

L: Yeah, when Alan’s treatment stopped it all really hit me. That’s when I started feeling a lot of anxiety, happiness but a lot of anxiety. I couldn’t believe we just went through that.

How have you found the services?

A: Very good! The massage and reflexology have been very good… which reminds me I need to book another appointment! I started the counselling. When you’ve got this thing it never really goes away. It’s always in the back of your mind. Counselling helps with those constant thoughts.

L: Similar to what Alan’s said really. I‘ve found the services excellent, so welcoming and the energy is so positive. When you’re here you feel like you could stay forever and not go home. Not handholding but that…

A: Leading you in the right direction.

L: Yeah, to help you along the way and the help came at a brilliant time because it was a time of reflection for us and that reflection brought panic.


What has been your favourite service?

L: Counselling is really excellent, I’ve learnt so many strategies to help me manage this situation.

A: I’d say reflexology. I fall asleep!

L: What’s also helpful is that they’ve been so flexible. There’s an understanding of your situation. Also, I work part time so the day time sessions are easy for me to go to but Alan is having evening counselling so he can do it around work.


What would you tell others in your situation about how The Nightingale can help them?

L: This place reduces a lot of stresses that this illness can bring. It helps and supports you along the way and it’s a brilliant service that is very welcoming and will make you feel calm and happy and meet your understanding of your needs.

A: It’s well worth coming. It’s helped me.


Could you sum up what the Nightingale means to you in one sentence?

A: Give me two seconds…

L: I’ll say the work that everybody’s doing to support families that are experiencing cancer is brilliant.

A: Makes you feel better without medication.