Sunday, 25 November 2012

Brighton Young Women's Forum

I have just come back from 2 fantastic days in Brighton at Breast Cancer Care's Younger Women's Forum.  It’s ten years since Breast Cancer Care held the first Younger Women’s Forum. They run six forums a year around the UK, each bringing together around 30 women under the age of 45 for two days of tailored information, support and sharing experiences. Before I went I was pretty apprehensive. The thought of signing up for two days away from home with a group of strangers, whilst dealing with treatment for breast cancer, didn't exactly fill me with joy. I had visions of everyone sitting around being miserable and making other people feel low. I also had silly visions of everyone taking their wigs off in a Roald Dahl's The Witches stylée! In the end I made the decision to go (and I'm bloody pleased that I did).

So What Was It All About?
I had made friends in advance with a couple of girls on Facebook (via a Young Women's Group) and arranged to meet one of them, Nicola, at Brighton station. We grabbed a taxi together to the Old Ship Hotel, and went into the reception room where we were given our name tags which also said our locations on. It was nice to see a few other girls from the Sussex area, and we had a quick chat before moving upstairs to the main room where we would be located for the next 2 days.

One of the women running the forum explained how everything would work and then we went into our first session which entitled "Medical Update - Management of Breast Cancer in Younger Women". It was very interesting and we could ask any questions we wanted. After that we had lunch and I met a lovely girl called Amie.

After lunch there were various Break Out Groups covering the following topics:
  • Breast Surgery & Reconstruction
  • Menopausal Symptoms
  • Relationships & Communication
You opted one to go to of the sessions and then there was an hour's information session on your chosen topic.

We then had a refreshment break before moving into a Well-Being Session of either:
I chose relaxation and had a great session where I almost fell asleep as I was so relaxed!

After the Well-Being Sessions there was free time for a couple of hours before we came back to the main room to watch a mini film. The video was celebrating 10 years of the Younger Women's Forum and featured women who had previously attended the forums.

After the film, we went down to the main restaurant for dinner which was followed by drinks and gossiping in the bar :)

The next day we started with a session about the different services provided by Breast Cancer Care (you can find more out about the services by following this link) which was really interesting as there were a fair few I hadn't heard of before.

After that we went into Break Out Groups again. This time the topics covered were:
  • Intimacy & Sexuality
  • Fertility After Treatment
  • Lymphoedema
After a break, we moved onto a session on Healthy Eating & Diet myths which was really interesting, there are so many things going round about Dairy, Sugar, Soya etc. It was good to be informed so that I could make my own decisions.

We had lunch, and then moved onto a session from 3 speakers who had been affected by bc in some way. One was a lady who now volunteers with BCC, one was a man whose wife sadly passed away from bc and as such he is now a prolific fundraiser for BCC, and another was a lady who had been to the Brighton Forum last year and gave us a chat on "Moving On".

After that we had a session on exercise where we were given some information, and then we had to get up and actually do some exercise!

Then the forum was over :( It absolutely flew by and was brilliant. We all exchanged email addresses and have since set up a Facebook group to stay in touch with each other.

Some of the group from the BCC Brighton Forum

If anyone is in a similar position to me and is thinking whether or not to go to the forum, please do. It was fantastic. The whole thing (including the hotel and all meals) is completely free (funded by BCC) and what an amazing lifeline it is.

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