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Registered Charity Number 1156595
The Hummingbird Centre
Grange Courtyard
Station Road


OX26 5DX
01869 244 244
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February 2018

Fiona’s Story
Fiona 2013 – Starting her journey with our makeup artist

Fiona was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013. Her journey took her to some dark places but I would like to tell you straight away that her story has a happy ending, thanks in part to The Hummingbird Centre, a cancer support and therapy centre in Launton.

Fiona was told that she had lung cancer over the telephone one morning in 2013 when she was alone in the house. She’d had no previous symptoms but had had pneumonia two years before and at a routine check-up the nurse had suggested an x-ray. The x-ray was followed by an MRI scan, a CAT scan and then a PET scan. In spite of these warning signs when Fiona was informed of the cancer, that morning in 2013, she was completely thrown off balance. She was so stunned that she kept the shocking news to herself and didn’t even tell her husband until about a week later. In the week after being informed of the cancer she just got on with what she had to do. At that time she was involved in a lot of voluntary work for the Bicester Air Training Corps and she kept herself busy getting on with stuff for them. Towards the end of the week her husband was beginning to think that something was up and he asked outright if there was anything the matter. Fiona doesn’t know why she didn’t tell her husband straight away - maybe she just needed time to come to terms with it herself.

Six weeks after being diagnosed Fiona was sent into hospital for surgery to remove part of her right lung. The operation was done by a ‘keyhole’ type of surgery and the cancerous part of the lung was successfully removed. She didn’t need chemotherapy which was a blessing but was put onto other drugs including morphine and she was sent home to have a period of rehabilitation. It was then that things began to take a turn for the worse. Fiona found that the stigma of having cancer was preventing friends from visiting and when she went into town friends and people she knew avoided her. Also, the morphine had the strange side-effect of heightening her sense of smell. The only thing she could eat after coming home from hospital was cheesey mashed potato. The smells of shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste and perfume would make her feel sick. She began to lose weight. She couldn’t socialise. The cancer had been removed but the aftermath was causing Fiona to feel isolated and unable to cope. The difficulties with eating and socialising were preventing Fiona from going out and about and were making her feel like a recluse in her own home. She even started to think that her husband would be better without her being around and at one point she got as far as going to the train station but was rescued from the brink by her husband. She was in a dark place. She needed help. It was then that a nurse mentioned The Hummingbird Centre and Fiona decided to give it a go. As soon as she walked through the door of the centre Mechelle, the manager, took her hand and told her that there was light at the end of the tunnel. It took Fiona two years to relax, to tell the staff at the centre her story and to cry. She cried a lot. She had locked up the emotions for a long time and crying was part of the recovery process. Since then Fiona’s recovery has been slow but steady, and she has now become a regular volunteer at the centre and is even organising their events calendar.

It wasn’t the cancer that affected Fiona so much as the cancer had been dealt with quite quickly (fingers crossed – you have to be clear for five years to be relatively certain that the cancer isn’t coming back). It was the social isolation that she felt afterwards that caused her the most problems. Friends just don’t know what to say to someone with cancer and so, being unsure and even frightened, they avoid the person affected altogether. This is where centres like the Hummingbird Centre are so important where the volunteers and the other guests understand what those affected with cancer are going. A little bit of empathy and friendship can work wonders. Fiona’s journey took her to some dark places but with a little bit of help she came through and as for now, fingers crossed, the future’s looking good!

Fiona 2018 winning awards from OCVA
For her work with The Hummingbird Centre