Radio Inspire

How To Learn Sign Language

Coping with cancer with hearing loss – Gwen’s story (British Sign Language)


Five years ago, I found a lump just under
my breast, just there. I felt it when I turned in bed, I had to wake my daughter and I said that I needed to go to my GP, to see the doctor straight away. But there was a problem when I arrived at the surgery, there was no interpreter booked because it was so short notice. I waited for two weeks and then I went to the hospital to have a check-up. After the mammogram I received a letter for an appointment in two weeks’ time, to go back to my GP. I waited another two weeks and I went back to the GP for the results and there was no interpreter. The interpreter never came, I waited for two hours and then I had to go in with the nurse and they had to write everything down, otherwise it would have to be delayed, so they just wrote down everything they had to say. And the nurse looked at the doctor and he was writing something down and he passed it to me and it said, “You have breast cancer.” I just left and just sat at the bus stop and I was just feeling all different emotions
and I just cried and cried. I received a letter to go to the hospital
and I went with my family. Finally there was an interpreter there. They explained the treatment options to me. I thought about it and decided to have my breast removed. And then I had chemotherapy for six months and then lastly I had radiotherapy. Through treatment I felt emotional, it made me feel sick, I lost my hair and I couldn’t taste anything. I had a problem with heartburn and I it made me really, really tired, I slept a lot and I was very weak. In Birmingham we have a group for deaf people and it’s a Macmillan support group for deaf people. If I didn’t have the group I would have felt so isolated and having the group makes you just feel like I’m not alone. I have people with the same experience as me. I feel cancer has changed me. I feel like my eyes are open to the world. I feel like my emotion has changed. I feel confident, I feel in control, I feel like I can go to work and get on with things. I’m very happy seeing my family, going to the gym, going to bingo, exercising, I love music, I love going out for a dance, I’m just enjoying life. I feel like I’ve got loads of energy, I feel wonderful.

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