Helping Hand - Jill's story

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As a mother to three girls, Jill had a busy life at home. When she found out she had breast cancer, she faced a lot of stress and anxiety over what it meant for her and her family.

Jill had to go through surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Not to mention all the side effects.

Thankfully Jill had Critical Illness Cover with Royal London. This meant she didn’t need to worry about money while she was getting better.

She also had access to our Helping Hand support service, which she described as a 'godsend'.

My name is Jill Ruston. I’m married to Christopher. We’ve been married for 20 years now. We’ve got three children – three girls – Alice, Lorna and Gina. I’m a quality manager with a large rail freight company in the UK and I work full time.

We took the cover out in 2011. It’s one of those policies you take out and hope you’re never going to have to claim on it.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on 5 September 2013. It was following a routine mammogram. I’d had no symptoms, no pain, no lumps. And the diagnosis came out the blue really.

We were all devastated. Obviously my husband, my children, my sisters. It was one of the hardest times I think we’ve been through.

When I was diagnosed we realised we’d taken this policy out. We contacted our financial adviser and I filled the forms out and we were paid out in a matter of weeks. The payout enabled Christopher to have some time off to look after me while I was poorly and having all the treatments. So then it was a case of we decided to have a nice holiday after all the treatment was finished.

My contact at Helping Hand was Linda. You’re given a breast care nurse when you’re diagnosed with breast cancer. Unfortunately the breast care nurses at Doncaster are really busy so it was nice to have someone who I could contact when I needed to talk or if I had any questions about any of my treatment or any of the symptoms I had – whether they were common or not common.

Linda contacted me just after I’d had my surgery in September. Our contact was mainly by telephone or email. I had a lumpectomy I think they called it. And then I had six rounds of chemotherapy and then three solid weeks of radiotherapy.

Linda was very, very supportive. I think the first thing Linda helped me with was how to listen and talk to the girls. That was one of the main areas I think at the beginning. Then obviously as my treatment progressed and I started to lose my hair and things, she advised me on products. And then when my hair started to come back she found me a hairdresser who specialised in new hair. So that was really helpful.

Linda also, when I was starting to recover, recommended a course of complementary therapy. She researched the complementary therapists in the Doncaster area and put me in contact with Jane.

Once I met Jane, we sat down and discussed a bespoke package that would help me on my road to recovery. I had reflexology and some hypnotherapy to help me start to take control of own recovery really.

When Helping Hand contacted me I spoke to a lovely lady called Linda who was a nurse adviser and she asked me whether I’d be prepared to offer some mix and match sessions for Jill to help with her recovery from breast cancer.

Jill, in particular, presented with quite a lot of tiredness when she first came to me. She was feeling quite exhausted and she was also having a lot of aches and pains due to her Herceptin injections. The reflexology she had with me in particular helped with increasing her energy levels, take control of her breathing and helped her to relax on a daily basis. It also helped her to experience symptomatic relief of the pain that she was in.

She found it was the start of her road to recovery.

Helping Hand has been very important to my recovery. Obviously the family have been the most important thing in my recovery. But Linda has been there if I’ve needed her. She's taken a good part that perhaps the hospital nurses if they'd had time would've done that.

Helping Hand was like a hug down the phone or a hug in an email. It just reassured you and Linda was there when I needed her.

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