Macmillan horse therapy service helps Kirkby woman with breast cancer diagnosis

A woman from Kirkby with breast cancer credits the horses at an innovative equine therapy service for helping her to process the trauma of her diagnosis.

By Shelley Marriott
Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 11:30 am

Anita Day, aged 39, from Kirkby, was diagnosed with breast cancer last December and has been supported by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Spirit and Soul Equine Therapy Service.

Thought to be one of the first of its kind in the country, the service, which has centres in Retford and Derby, helps build the confidence of people going through cancer treatment through structured therapeutic activities with the horses.

Participants learn horsemanship skills and do reflection exercises incorporating the horses over the course of four sessions held at the centre.

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Anita with Suzy

Anita credits the horses at the centre in Derby for helping her to process the trauma she was carrying after a severe reaction to her chemotherapy treatment which left her in hospital for a month close to death.

She is due to have breast cancer surgery in October, as she celebrates her 40th birthday, but thanks to the service is stronger and ready to face the next stage of her treatment.

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Anita said: “I didn’t realise the healing power of animals.

“The first day I walked through that little gate, there was one horse that came straight over to me.

“It was like the horses could see what was inside and what I was feeling.

“I find it hard to clear my mind, but it was the easiest thing to do with the horses.

“My mind was completely clear, I didn’t have any other thoughts or worries, I just sat with them and enjoyed their calmness.

“It really is an amazing service and I have gotten so much out of it already.

Sarah Stephens, 32, set up the horse therapy service after her own breast cancer diagnosis and finding comfort in her two horses.

She said: “It has been an absolute privilege to support so many people affected by cancer and see the positive impact our horses can have on people like Anita.

"When I dreamt up this project while having chemotherapy, I never imagined it would grow into something like this.”

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