A cancer diagnosis can be an isolating experience and can generate a variety of emotions, mainly negative. Throughout the treatment, which can be lengthy, it can sometimes be difficult to stay positive; you may feel that nobody else really understands what you are going through. Friends and family can be unaware that treatments can often make you feel worse for months because, while damaging tumour cells, they are also damaging normal cells, tissues and physiological systems. And of course feeling physically ill much of the time can lead to mental ill-health.

Joining a support group can help with all that physical and mental turmoil – and it can help not just the person with the diagnosis but also family and carers. While there are support groups for specific types of cancer, The Living Tree includes all types of cancer in men and women. It meets weekly and can therefore provide plenty of support for people who need it, either by meeting together in Bridport, by telephone or email contact.

What is so comforting is that you know the other members of the group understand what you have been through. In my own case, it is really difficult to explain the side-effects of chemo or the discomfort caused by having many lymph nodes removed to someone who has not had these experiences. People at The Living Tree understand and will empathise.

Someone once said to me “I don’t need a support group, I just want to forget what happened, and I certainly don’t want to discuss treatment and side-effects all the time.” Nothing could be further from reality!

At the Living Tree we certainly don’t dwell on the negative. From time to time we may talk about some side-effects, on-going treatment regimes or compare notes on hospitals, but most of the time we are creative. We sing, draw, sew, paint, dance, play musical instruments, relax, have massages from a qualified therapist, do gentle exercise, read poetry, write … or have talks from experts in various fields. And we have refreshments together. We also have a small library of books, both non-fiction and fiction, which you are welcome to borrow.

The best that can happen is that you give us a try on a Friday afternoon and that you stay as one of our members. You have nothing to lose!

Ros Cole, April 2014