My name is Cora Stanbridge. I’m a mammy to two lovely boys and I’ve a great partner. I work as a Customer Service Manager for an Irish bedding manufacturer and I’m clinging onto my 30s by the skin of my teeth - big “40” round the corner!
I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer at the age of 37 and immediately started six months of chemotherapy followed by a maintenance programme. Thankfully I’ve been fortunate to have a complete response, with my hair back stronger than ever and my recent return to work after 15 months' leave.
ARC has helped me every step of the way from diagnosis, during treatment and recovery through their relaxation/stress management classes, yoga, counselling, reflexology and endless cups of tea and chat with all the lovely volunteers you meet once you walk through their doors. When faced with a cancer diagnosis the medical world and hospitals treat your body but you really need to look after your mind too - that’s where ARC comes in. Cancer affects people from all walks of life and I’ve made great friends through ARC services, a lot of whom are on the same or similar journey which is a great support.
In January 2014 my husband was diagnosed with Glioblastoma brain tumour (GBM) which resulted in endless surgeries, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Nobody worked in our house for over 10 months, I had a five-year-old and a three-month-old baby to look after and I became a full-time carer for my husband. This had a massive negative impact on me, the kids and the extended family.
I was so relieved when I discovered ARC. I dropped in regularly for chats with the volunteers, I attended relaxation classes and counselling, and my daughter Riena attended the CLIMB programme (a support programme for children). I used ARC as a space to escape everything and take some time for myself so I could process everything that was going on.
Without ARC and everything the people working there have done for me I wouldn’t be functioning now. It enabled me to keep going through my husband’s illness and they continued to support me after he passed away. They’ve given me the support I need to keep going for my kids.
In March 2014 I had a radical prostatectomy to remove prostate cancer. For me ARC was a special place from the very moment I pressed the doorbell on my first day attending Eccles Street. ARC has helped me to open my mind to meditation, relaxation and talking about issues that I had held onto for a long time. The genuine support, counselling and friendliness of everyone involved makes it special. I just wish more men would avail of the support services at ARC.
My life fell asunder three years ago when I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that had a poor prognosis. The emotional upheaval had taken the family by complete shock. Our future plans of moving house and sending the children to France for a year’s schooling had to be put on hold. The outside world looked bleak and my outlook was one of deep sadness and anxiety.
The hospital I attended was fantastic and the care was superb but the effects of treatment were gruelling. I would describe myself as happy-go-lucky but my moods spiralled out of control and I just wasn't functioning from a psychological point of view. I was in a darker place than I ever imagined. I raised my mental health concerns with my consultant and she advised that I should attend ARC Cancer Support Centres.
After a month of visiting ARC and feeling my spirits lifting, I began to go to the group classes and met other patients. The solidarity shown amongst all the clients is amazing and the love and support shown by families and friends that attend ARC was really encouraging for all of us.
I may have a poor prognosis but my quality of life has improved dramatically and my head is now in the right space to deal with my chronic illness. We are now moving house and my children are gearing up to go to school in France. I feel everybody affected by cancer should have an opportunity to hear about ARC and visit one of the centres for a bit of solace. It helped me come to terms with my illness and get my life back on track. Thank you to all in ARC.
My name is Niamh and I’m a 22-year-old journalist, blogger and creative from Dublin. In September 2015 I was diagnosed with aggressive papillary thyroid cancer which resulted in my entire thyroid being removed, as well as all of the lymph nodes in my neck. Although treatment for papillary thyroid cancer is invasive, it’s life-saving. Even though I have a large and visible scar on my neck, I’m happy to have my health and to be cancer-free.
To me ARC is a safe environment that I can go to that isn't clinical or hospital-like. It is warm, inviting and filled with positivity which are things I currently need in my life. I’m in the final year of my degree and ARC offers refuge away from the stress of college life by offering relaxation courses, yoga, Indian head massages, a good cup of tea and a chat.
Because of my age I wasn’t able to attend Canteen - which is a cancer service for young people with the illness - but ARC acted as a perfect substitute. I hope other young people in similar situations avail of the services that ARC has to offer as I couldn’t have got through my diagnosis without them.