“Illness is the night side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.”  Quotation Susan Sontag.

To those who have dared the darkness, and those who have walked with them, without pity.”  Marion Woodman

What’s in a name?  The Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 BC) named the disease ‘carcinoma’, after the Greek word for crab.  The name was changed to ‘cancer’, after the Latin word for crab by the Roman physician, Celsus (28-50 BC).  To hear the word cancer causes different reactions between people and we all have our own unique stories, impressions and ideas about “cancer”.

Counselling may help when there has been a personal cancer diagnosis or that of a partner, family member or friend.  Treatment options may have been exhausted and there is a need to talk things through with someone, like a counsellor, but who is independent from the medical team who treated you and is able to be objective with you because you aren’t known to them and are neither a friend nor relative to you.  The time to talk differs for everyone and only you know when the time is right to approach a counsellor for support.

There is a great deal to come to terms with and process for anyone experiencing cancer, be it directly or indirectly:  from symptoms to diagnosis; attending tests and procedures; the endless waiting; learning how to cope; how and when to tell others about the cancer.  Often concluding in a total re-assessment of Self and re-evaluation of one’s life, belief system and values.

It is quite normal to feel anxious, angry, guilty, sad, depressed and feeling that one’s body has turned against you.  Cancer is often about loss, loss of:  health, strength, fertility, a body part.  These losses can lead to an overall loss of identity questioning “who am I?  Feelings of limited or no control, security or autonomy over one’s own life anymore are common.  People can feel alienated from the world of ‘well’ people, feeling stigmatised and isolated.  Having to be cared for can resurrect childhood memories of when we were parented and under parents’ control.  Clients can regress to a child-like status, which may be uncomfortable and resented.  Having been the focus of attention of the medical profession and hospital, upon leaving this regime, clients can feel abandoned, lost and cast adrift and need to seek a new direction in life.

Cancer makes us focus on time and time becomes precious.  There can be an urgency to address something in one’s past, which has been avoided or distracted from.  New phobias and anxieties may increase in the face of diagnosis and treatment.  Largely clients need to re-assess their life, relationships and Self.  Counselling may help to regain hope and to learn to self-regulate oneself with all that life has to throw at us.Louise Hamilton Centre_A Way In Two Worlds

I work for the Big C, a Norfolk cancer charity at the Louise Hamilton Centre, James Paget Hospital, Gorleston-on-Sea (pictured right).  Link to the charity




Close the Door When You Leave

By Michael Hayes Samuelson

I never asked you to visit…at least I don’t believe I did

Maybe…I don’t know

It’s so confusing


At any rate, you’re a rude guest

You take my energy,

Rob my sleep, and with a stick

You swirl and distort my dreams


All right; You are here — for now

But understand

There are two places

That are forever off limits


You may not tread on my spirit

You may not occupy my soul

I have heard of your visits to others

I know the damage you leave in your path

The wanton disregard for innocence, value, and what some would call fairness


Also, I hear that laughter confuses you; that good foods make you feel bad, and

That nothing causes you more distress than an autumn sunset, the forever blue of a summer sky,

Or the unconditional radiance of a child’s smile


Listen and understand

You might pilfer my closets, empty all the drawers, and trash my house

But there are two places forever off limits


You may not tread on my spirit

You may not occupy my soul


Do not mistake my nausea, weakness, and pain as signs of your victory

They are simply small dents in the armor I wear to fight you

Instead, look deeply into my eyes


They will once again remind you that there are two places forever off limits


You must not…

May not…

Will not tread on my spirit


You must not..

May not…

Will not occupy my soul