LIFE finally seems to be on track for Sarah Bowen.
The 32-year-old, who is originally from London but now lives in Holywell, has returned to work - albeit part time - and she has found a strong support network in Wrexham.
In the last seven years, Sarah has twice been diagnosed with cancer and has had two major operations to tackle the disease.
Following her first battle she moved from the English capital to Flintshire, leaving behind the friends and family who had helped her through that difficult time.
But, away from the people she had relied on, Sarah felt very isolated when she was diagnosed a second time. It was then that she found a lifeline in Wrexham’s Nightingale House Hospice..
“After my operation, my oncologist wanted me to see a psychologist because I also self-harm,” she said. “I couldn’t get to see the psychologist at Glan Clwyd so I came to see the psychologist here. That’s how I first got involved with Nightingale House.
“Through my sessions with her, she thought I would benefit from coming to the Monday programme (a selection of informative talks, well being, creative therapy and relaxations groups).”
Sarah had no idea what to expect.
“I was a little nervous at first ‘because I thought I’d be the youngest person and they might be funny with me and I suppose I didn’t really know what happened at a hospice,” she explained.
“I turned up for the first one and it was the best thing I ever did. The staff were amazing, everyone was very welcoming and I wasn’t the youngest.”
Few can imagine what Sarah has been through in recent years.
“I was 25 when I was first diagnosed,” she recalled. “I had a lumpectomy and my lymph nodes removed. The first time around was hard but I was in London then and I had a big support group
“The second time I was diagnosed, I was in Wales and I didn’t have that same support. But the hospice was somewhere I could go. You come here and you feel that you can trust everyone - the staff, volunteers and patients.
“You can talk to people – even if it’s not related to your cancer. You can come here and cry – I spent a day just crying and (staff nurse) Dawn Roberts sat with me the whole time.
“I moved to Wales for a quieter pace of life and I’m very glad I did. I thought the care I received in London was very good but here it’s so much better.”
Sarah has benefited from a wide range of advice - not just on medical matters.
“Having the opportunity to come to the hospice meant that I was able to get help with various things,” she continued. “I was able to see the welfare rights officer who gave me help with my funding. Everything here has kept me going, I don’t think I could have done without it.”
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