If you were to ask Sukhi Dhillon what she loves most in the world, she will tell you without hesitance: her two sons, and supporting others.
However, a sudden breast cancer diagnosis presented Sukhi with a scenario in which she was unable to be her usual supportive self to her loved ones. With her husband often working abroad, two sons undertaking exams and the emergence of difficult family problems, Sukhi barely had time for the painful surgery, treatment and side effects that her diagnosis forced upon her.
Nevertheless, Sukhi still found the strength to put her sons that she loves so dearly before her.
Her son, Amardeep, recalls how it was a battle getting her to accept their help.
‘She hid how much pain she was in, she hid how difficult it was for her. She’d always encourage me to go out with friends and to get on with my school work. I had to fight her to let me wash the dishes and mop the floor. I think bizarrely Mum made sure she was more there for us than we were for her, which is a testament to how strong she is’.
Sukhi may have been just about getting by, but her hectic lifestyle was becoming unsustainable. It would take something exceptional to convince her that she needed to accept a little help and claim some time for herself. That ‘something’ was the discovery of Breast Cancer Haven.
‘Coming to Breast Cancer Haven… just… I can’t tell you how grateful I am and how much it saved me. I said to the boys, I won’t be here when you come home from school, which means in some days nobody will be here. But I need to do this so that I can become stronger for you’.
Over the course of Sukhi’s experience with breast cancer, she was able to visit Breast Cancer Haven and receive treatments in acupuncture, emotional healing, aromatherapy and life-work coaching, all of which helped her to deal with the pain of surgery as well as the emotional fallout of breast cancer. ‘I remember the techniques when I’m dealing with stress, which allows me to continue doing things I love instead of always worrying. During treatment, I made sure I stayed focused on other things I enjoyed too. I concentrated on cooking and baking and sold cakes twice a week locally, studied ancient Greek to keep the brain ticking and volunteered to teach Punjabi’.
Sukhi’s breast cancer treatment is now in the past but her experience and the support of Breast Cancer Haven has taught her that even the strongest people can’t stay strong for those around them without a bit of help and support themselves. This, she claims, has been the biggest lesson of all.