When I noticed something was wrong, fear, uncertainty and a feeling of uselessness was paramount in my mind.

On diagnosis, fears become real and life takes on a different focus. Not only do you rely upon family and friends to be there for you, but you also look for someone with whom to share your fears and hopefully plans for the future.

I was lucky, not only did I have a very loving family network, including a sister who has survived breast cancer, but also a massage therapist who had the most reassuring touch anyone could wish for.  Hands which just knew where the massage would be most effective for my needs that day.

I had been going to John Holman for Hydrotherm treatments on an ad hoc basis for many years. I played squash regularly and found there were times when I had overstretched, pulled muscles or just felt the need for a relaxing massage.  It was during one of our treatments that a lump was noticed in my abdomen. I knew my abdomen was getting larger and had decided that going to the gym was the answer – it was not!

My doctor immediately took blood tests and organised both x-rays and ultrasound and subsequently scheduled me for an operation to remove a very large tumour from my abdomen. The consultants did not initially know what type of cancer it was and could only tell me that it was attached the peritoneum.

I continued to have my massages with John as it was a source of great comfort and provided continuity in my otherwise chaotic life. I began a course of chemotherapy on the 11th of June 2008 ruling out radiotherapy because of the proximity of major organs.

One week after my first course of chemotherapy I had severe pains in my left leg and thigh.  I consulted with John and he agreed to continue our massage treatments, which was a great relief to me and a complete joy as it appeared that the pain had migrated down my leg and out through my toes.  I had every confidence and trust in John’s skills and was determined to continue regular monthly treatments, booking upto a year a head and something which I have maintained to this day.  Even when my son phoned and asked “mum, if I could get you a little treat what would you ask for?”  My answer was simple, “a treatment with John please”.

John was the link to a “normal life," I felt confident and relaxed  after my session and did note that I was not as tired as my fellow “inmates” seemed to be.

I had no adverse effects from any of my massage treatments throughout my diagnosis, treatment and recovery.  I have no doubts that receiving a massage every four weeks was a major part of my recovery and as mentioned I continue this practice today.  I would recommend massage to anyone undergoing cancer treatment for the comfort of touch and sense of wellbeing it delivers.