Finding a village of support during my journey with breast cancer


The anticipation of starting on a home renovation project to transform my laundry and bathroom had me eager and excited for the changes ahead. However, just days after starting the work and kicking of my renovations, my GP told me: “I’m so sorry, you have breast cancer.” 

With two young children, a demanding job as a shift-working nurse, and now the looming spectre of cancer treatment, my world felt as though it had been turned upside down. Following my diagnosis, medical appointments began multiplying on my calendar. All of a sudden, I had so many friends and family members tell me, “let me know if you need anything.” I knew they were trying to be helpful, but I didn’t know how to ask for help, I didn’t even know what type of help I needed. 

As a nurse, I was used to being the one caring for others. Suddenly I was on the other end of the line and needing to reach out to my loved ones for support. I was overwhelmed, going through intensive treatment and verbalising what help I needed was a mission in itself. It was clear I needed help coordinating my support system, but I didn’t have the means to do it myself.  

After taking some time to reflect on what I needed to do to let my brain and body rest, I recognised I needed to accept as much help as I could and find a way to get past the vulnerability and awkwardness I felt about asking for help. I came to understand that accepting help was not a sign of weakness, but a necessity for my well-being. Thankfully, when my breast cancer nurse sent me a welcome pack, there was a link to Gather My Crew, an app which helped me coordinate the support I needed from my friends and family.  

My beautiful crew of helpers were able to lift the mental load off me at a time my brain was in overdrive. 

The emotional burden accompanying a breast cancer diagnosis is immense, and the awkwardness and vulnerability of asking for help can be daunting. Fortunately, my loved ones helped me by seamlessly organising themselves through group chats and shared to-do lists on the Gather My Crew platform. All I needed to do was input a task into the list, and someone from my support network would volunteer for it. I was also able to select an ‘inner circle’ of people to help with the more sensitive tasks or helping me with my kids. 

It was reassuring to realise that my friends using the platform were selecting tasks that suited their own hectic schedules, alleviating any concerns I had about burdening them. I was also able to prioritise practicality and get the help I really needed, rather than what people thought I needed. So often when someone is in need, there is an outpouring of offers to make meals or bring flowers and the oh so common phrase, “let me know if you need anything”. Although these words are always meant with love and good intention, they put the responsibility of asking for help back on the person in need. I was fortunate enough to have my loved ones coordinate the practical help I needed to ensure my days ran smoothly. This wasn’t just immediately after my diagnosis, but months later as well.  

My support crew offered me the most incredible practical assistance at the times I most needed it, but they also helped me feel less alone in my fight. Seeing their messages of support and receiving a notification after someone had helped with a task was a constant reminder to help me get through each day. When my treatment was coming to an end, I was able to scroll back and see all the messages and notifications from those who helped me, and I was able to thank them properly.  

After facing a difficult set of circumstances, I found a special moment in being able to teach my kids what it looks like to have your “village” supporting you, and in turn how we can play a part in our loved one’s village. It shows that even when we need to face tough moments, having the support of a village makes it less scary. Navigating my cancer journey highlighted the importance of seeking and embracing support. Even as I’ve completed treatment and adjusted to my new normal, I’ll forever cherish my friends and family who supported me during the toughest time. 

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