Patient Shares Meadows Story

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Cat Lewis, local artist and member of Save the Northern Meadows

I made an attempt to tell my story on the ‘support velindre’ fb group and on the Velindre official page, as we in STNM are constantly being told – ‘don’t comment unless you’ve experienced cancer’. It appears both have been removed or are very well hidden. Here it is – please do share if you want to.

I am a cancer patient of Velindre. Here’s my story.

Two years ago i was diagnosed with breast cancer at Llandough Breast Centre. I had so many biopsies, scans, blood tests and information in that first 6 weeks, I was a complete mess, physically and emotionally. Then came the lymph node biopsy surgery. And yes, the cancer was there too.

So it was onto 15 weeks of chemo at Velindre. I had two visits to UHWH during for emergency treatment for infections. I also had psychiatric sessions at LLandough, with a specialist breast nurse consultant, when I wanted to die. Six weeks to recover and then I was back to Llandough for surgery – a unilateral mastectomy and full sentinel lymph clearance. No reconstruction was possible then as after another six weeks of recovery, I started radiation therapy, again at Velindre. Physiotherapy during all this was via the breast centre and also at Velindre. I still visit the lymphodoema clinic at Cardiff Infirmary.

I am on Tamoxifen chemical therapy for 10 years. This put me into total menopause, causing uncontrollable sweats, chronic joint pain, agonising leg cramps, endometrial polyps, mood swings, anxiety and massive fatigue. I have not been able to have reconstruction yet, at Morriston Swansea, because of Covid-19.

So, that’s my cancer story. . . Only it doesn’t end there.

This week I have been back to UHWH for a nuclear bone scan, followed by an x-ray – as there is something amiss. Now I have the wait again.

The anxiety of a diagnosis and the treatment decisions that follow.

The night before my scan appointment, I walked from my little flat, along the shady wooded path, across the meadow fields, where I then lay. I listened to the breeze in the trees and the birds, happily unaware of my anxiety. Being in nature always calms. . . except now I have a greater anxiety than the needles I would be facing and the claustrophobic scan to come the next day.

That anxiety is that this wonderful, wild and special place may be lost to a development – for a place where I may end up being treated again. Do I want that here on the meadow, more than to be able to sit beneath these ancient oaks and watch majestic herons? No. Throughout my treatment, I walked and cycled to my treatments and out in nature whenever I could, sometimes with help, taking in natural surroundings, seeing a bigger picture of life.

This is not where the new cancer centre should go. There are other sites. There are other ways. Nature and our environment is our life support system. It is more important than my life – than any one person’s life – it is about our survival as a race on a planet in crisis. It is about my unborn grandchild having air it can breathe, wild woodland to play in, and better health. Because we and those in power, stopped ignoring the climate emergency and took the drastic actions that are required to avert unprecedented disasters affecting our children’s futures.

I am like you – my life altered forever by cancer. And like you I have a right to stand up for my beliefs without being bullied, called awful names and had cancer wished upon me and my family. I’ve even seen it suggested that I should not be allowed treatment at velindre because I want the meadows saved. This has come from the people organising and speaking on this ‘caring’ group, who who profess to care about and support cancer patients.

The anxiety I have suffered during this time of uncertainty about my life has been debilitating.

If you are interested in the people, reasons and facts behind the Save the Meadows campaign, please take 5 minutes to read this post. We are just like you. People. with Cancer in our lives, and love in our hearts.

Written by Cat Lewis

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