Maria’s story

Maria, from St Albans, shares her experience of accessing family support services and complementary therapy at Grove House...

Maria’s story

Maria’s story

“I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2020. I was successfully treated and thought that would be the end of it but sadly I had a recurrence.

“It turned out that I have what is called oligometastatic cancer which means that my primary cancer wasn’t breast cancer as such, that’s just where the first tumours appeared.

“The whole diagnosis was quick and hard to deal with. And treatment was gruelling. So when I was referred to Rennie Grove for counselling, I knew it was something I wanted and needed to do.

“The counsellor that I met there was honestly the best I have ever had. I have accessed counselling in the past for other reasons but this lady was different.

“I found that during these sessions, the counsellor would say something very small that she had noticed about me and then give me the time to digest it.

“In the past I felt like a counsellor would open up a can of worms during a session and then leave me to deal with it in the days and weeks that followed. This time was very different. She would say something she had noticed and then work with me to allow me to find answers.

“As with any form of counselling there is a lot to digest between sessions, as well as the time you spend in the session itself. For me, it was helpful to have two weeks between sessions so I could properly digest what we had discussed and consider what I would like to do next. I liked that the Rennie Grove counsellor was very flexible and would accommodate this scheduling as it was the best thing for me.

“I really felt like the counsellor was working with me, not trying to ‘fix’ me. Personally I find it excruciating if people are too sympathetic or treat me like a victim. She wasn’t like that at all. Her approach was to find my strengths and work together on finding ways that I could move forward. It was a very empowering approach and really set me up for moving on after the course of therapy ended.

“The approach was very focused and practical. Instead of just letting me babble on, we worked together to take a day at a time and not to get too hung up on the future.”

“Accessing counselling helped me with things like how to speak to my grown-up children about my diagnosis. Having support with things like that, that aren’t strictly medical matters, really does make a huge difference to quality of life and how you can make every moment matter, even after a life-changing diagnosis.”


As well as counselling, Maria was able to access reflexology. She says:

“I found the reflexology sessions so helpful. It was 45 minutes of pure ‘me time’ and I felt so good by the end of each session.

“The therapist was so professional and really lovely. She took the time to listen to me and address any concerns. For example, taking into account my concerns about skin irritation when choosing a cream to use during my treatment.”

"Hospice is a very scary word for a lot of people. People often associate it with the end of life or think it will be a sad and depressing place. Grove House is not like that at all. The services I accessed there really were about living my life with the diagnosis I have."