Lindsay, known to much of our Community as Leolady56, has been an avid member and Community Champion for a couple of years now. Just a couple of months ago I discovered that outside of the Community Lindsay’s involved in a fair few rather interesting hobbies – something you’ll shortly read about further. In addition, she’s also the founder of the ever popular Walking back to Happiness thread, where members share their walks, or any outside excursions they might’ve recently been on with the group. Given this, I thought it good idea to ask Lindsay about her hobbies, and how they helped her cope with cancer. The response? These hobbies reminded Lindsay to be herself.

You are all going to have to forgive me for a few sentences.......You see the; ‘I forgot to be ME’ started a long time ago.

So here goes for the back story:

Back in 2009 I finally achieved the job I had been planning for my entire career.  Then one year on, I nearly reached a milestone I was not planning for. This one was when my husband announced: “Either you find a life outside of work or we go our separate ways.”

So, I dug deep, and I remembered the things I had loved in the past. It was a family joke my singing and dancing in front of the television to Top of the Pops, so I joined Rock Choir. I had learnt a new skill of quilting whilst living abroad, so I had lots of half-finished projects to complete. And walking for miles had always been a joy to me as it emptied my head. I added a long-forgotten skill of yoga, but soon found Tai Chi instead as it fitted my aging years and creaking joints. I had more conversations than the job-related ones and I had saved my marriage.

Lovely, super and we skipped off into the sunset.

I retired. But the sunset had a big fat blob on it: CANCER.  For me it was breast cancer to be exact. And suddenly appointments, waiting for results, operations, recovery, decisions, chemotherapy, more decisions, and radiotherapy filled my days. And guess what?

 ‘I forgot to be ME.’

It was a slow and insidious process of forgetting, and to be honest I thought the whole process of ‘having cancer’ was how my life was going to be from then on.

But other people had different ideas for me. The friends from my choir (no more television blocking) called and dragged me out to sing. There was no time to feel sorry for myself as I learnt new words and the moves to songs. Fine, some days I left early; some days I didn’t go; some days I sat out the moves. But equally I joined in with concerts for charities and I laughed, and I forgot about cancer. Appearing at a concert in my new wig, the poor choir leader unsure of whom the heck this new person was!

At about the same time we had all been chatting on the Breast Cancer Group about getting out and about, ‘smelling the roses’ and getting the endorphins going. So, the ‘Walking Back to Happiness’ thread began. We created a supportive bunch of people. We cheered one another on as we took our first tentative steps to getting back to a ‘new normal’. No journey was too small or too big. All activity was included running, shuffling, swimming, yoga, Tai Chi and Wifits.  Yes, we fell at some fences when treatment hit hard or the days were dreary, but the change in mindset and attitude is (and remains) amazing. Pictures of beautiful places are posted; chats about when we had visited that place; wanting to visit that place and a desire to be somewhere other than where cancer wanted to take us. And for me a lovely new friend in my world, as we discovered through the thread we lived close by.

At the same time another person started a Crafts and BC thread. That was perfect for those who were crafting away to share their creations and for those who needed a proverbial kick up the ***** to get crafting again. And again, like the choir and the walking, the time disappears, and your mind is totally focussed on the craft, no time for you ‘cancer’.

So, please as cancer attempts to drag you down some weird and awful path, grab some time. Grab some time to be you. The up side of finding new skills or renewing old skills are bountiful. They give you time and space to forget; time to reset the ‘you’ button; time to reflect; new people enter your life; they deliver good feelings and endorphins. The list is endless really.

For me, one year on and clear, I have found a whole wealth of new skills and new friends. I have chosen not to forget to be me.

If you’ve found that hobbies have helped you in a similar way to Lindsay, go ahead and share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

If you’d like to see what local support groups are available near you (including walking groups, choirs and arts and crafts groups), take a look at the In Your Area section of our website.

In addition to the groups and threads mentioned above, our Express yourself group is a space where members can share anything creative, as well as any interesting escapades or exploits they might’ve been on.