No one is ever prepared for the shock of a cancer diagnosis according to Cedric Burke, who, in 2018, was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 46. A father of four, Cedric and his wife Lavinia were living a busy and fulfilling family life in Woodford, near Portumna in County Galway. Looking back at the time prior to his diagnosis, Cedric can see there were a few signs that everything might not be right but these symptoms were almost unnoticeable, especially when everything else seemed so normal. So it was a profound shock for him when he received his cancer diagnosis following a routine check with his GP.
Immediately after my diagnosis I felt a bit overwhelmed and struggled to come to terms with what this meant for me and my family. Decisions on treatment were made quickly and I had my surgery soon after and thankfully this went well. Even better I didn’t require further treatment so my physical recovery also went well. However, the mental health side of my diagnosis was a lot more difficult to manage and this is where I really needed more longer-term support.
The Cancer Care West Support Centre therefore has been an integral part of my cancer journey as this is where I have received most of my psychological counselling and also where I found the space in which I could come to terms with everything. My counsellor is Ulrike Kennedy and she has been an amazing help to me, understanding the impact having cancer has had on me and those around me. Moving from the traditional role of provider and protector of my family to that of someone who needs support myself has been difficult but Ulrike has helped me put this in perspective. Even on the days when all I felt like doing is moaning, Ulrike and her colleagues were there for me with a warm welcome, a cup of tea and the wise words to pick you up and keep you going.
With the advent of COVID-19 in 2020 everyone’s lives changed dramatically and life became quite difficult for us all. Thankfully, Cancer Care West managed to keep the majority of their services going throughout. Counselling sessions over the phone and Zoom Yoga classes have remained vital to my ongoing recovery. When other supports I was availing of were closed they have remained accessible and I am very grateful for this.
I am well on the road to recovery now and I am looking forward to the future and all it will bring. Without question my wife has been my biggest support and has gotten me through it all. But we could not have done it alone and Cancer Care West has filled that gap and made such a difference to my cancer story.