`

Mansfield cancer survivor beats the odds to lead Macmillan volunteer scheme

Kerry Brealey, 40, from Mansfield, was diagnosed with cervical cancer when she was just 25 and told she could never have children.
Kerry Brealey, 40, from Mansfield, was diagnosed with cervical cancer when she was just 25 and told she could never have children.

Kerry Brealey, 40, from Mansfield, was diagnosed with cervical cancer when she was just 25 and told she could never have children.

The cancer was treated successfully, but Kerry battled depression and anxiety for several years afterwards.

Kerry said: “To be told I had cancer at the age of 25 was devastating.

"I just never thought I would have to fight a battle like that.

"Overnight my husband and I went from enjoying life as 25-year-olds to making life and death decisions.

"After the surgery I became really depressed and very anxious.

"I’d worry about every appointment. I mostly worried about the cancer coming back.”

Kerry, then a family support worker, didn’t receive any kind of psychological support after she was diagnosed with cancer, which lead her to apply for a new job as a Macmillan

The experience drove her to apply for the job on the Macmillan Beyond Diagnosis Project, which provides practical and emotional support in the home to local people living with cancer.

The scheme has been rolled out across Nottinghamshire, meaning that Kerry along with two new volunteer co-ordinators and around 200 trained volunteers, will now be able to provide support to every single person living with cancer in Nottinghamshire who needs it.

Kerry added: “I feel really passionate about people getting the right support at the right time.

"It can be really difficult to talk to family members about how you’re feeling as you don’t want to burden them when they’re already doing so much.

"Our volunteers are there to offer a bit of extra help and support both to the person diagnosed with cancer and their loved ones.”

The Macmillan Beyond Diagnosis scheme matches people living with cancer to trained volunteers with similar backgrounds and interests.

Support is delivered on an ongoing or one-off basis and can range from accompanying patients to support groups or appointments to assisting with light house work or other tasks.

The service volunteers also provide companionship to help combat feelings of isolation.

Now, several years later, Kerry is working alongside many of the consultants and health professionals who cared for her when she had cancer.

She also defied doctors’ expectations and gave birth to a happy healthy son.

Mandy Edwards, Macmillan Quality Lead for Nottinghamshire, said: “The Macmillan Beyond Diagnosis Project is about helping people to find their best way through from the moment of diagnosis so they can live life as fully as they can.

"The project has gone from strength to strength, having started 3 years ago with a handful of volunteers it has now grown to a county wide project that is having a real impact on the lives of hundreds of people living with cancer.”

f you are interested in becoming a volunteer for Macmillan Beyond Diagnosis or would like to receive support, please contact Kerry Brealey on 07958297919, email volunteering@selfhelp.org.uk or visit www.selfhelp.org.uk/beyonddiagnosis