Michele Bone, a 47-year-old working mum of twin girls, from Abbots Langley, recently attended the free HOPE course in the Hospice’s Spring Centre. HOPE, which stands for Help Overcoming Problems Effectively is a six-week workshop, aimed at giving cancer sufferers the knowledge, skills and confidence to move on with their lives after treatment in an informal, relaxed setting.
Wendy Valentine, Occupational Therapist at The Spring Centre, explains, “The whole idea of HOPE is to help people move on by teaching them self-management techniques on how to manage their stress, set goals and overcome practical and emotional difficulties. It can’t fix everything but what it can do is give people the knowledge, skills and confidence to do the things they value and find meaningful in their lives.”
Michele, has nothing but praised for the course and said, “I was diagnosed with early but high grade breast cancer in October 2013 and the following month I had a single mastectomy and breast reconstruction.
“I was incredibly lucky that I didn’t need chemo or radiotherapy and that just before Christmas, I was given the all-clear. I’m quite a positive person but physically I felt like I’d been run over by a bus – I was on morphine sulphate to control the post-operative pain until very recently - but for me, the HOPE course was definitely the right thing to do at the right time.
“It was like being with friends in a really open and comfortable environment where you felt you could share information with people who would be 100% empathetic.
“I attended it after my operation but when I was still very much in the middle of it all and it made me stronger, it helped me get back on track and it made me realise that not everything has to be done in a day.
“It also taught me to pace myself, not take on extra stress, make time for myself and was a really valuable tool in my recovery.
“It helped me to set goals too – I’m going to do a Swimathon, I’ve started a new fitness class and I’m planning to climb Ben Nevis in the next couple of years. I’d recommend it to anyone and it’s a service we’re really lucky to have.”