Diagnosed with breast cancer just three weeks after her engagement, it took Jackie Scully all of her strength and the help of a heavenly Haven to recover

  • In the UK, the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer is one in eight women
  • 550,000 Britons are currently fighting the disease, a figure estimated to double by 2030
  • Jackie Scully was just three weeks engaged to her boyfriend of 13 years when she found a lump on her breast on Christmas Eve
  • But whilst the hospital fought her disease, it was the Breast Cancer Haven that helped repair her psychological health, putting her 'back together again'

Written by Samantha Lade for DonateToday

PUBLISHED: 16:42, 1st Sep 2017 | UPDATED: 15:34, 26th Sep 2017

A Shock Diagnosis

‘There are many things I thought I’d be planning three weeks after getting engaged to my boyfriend of 13 years,’ explains Jackie Scully. 

‘But, I must confess, a mastectomy wasn’t one of them.’

After finding a lump in the shower on Christmas Eve of 2013, Jackie initially thought little of her surprise discovery. Instead she drank champagne and spoke with her new fiancé about how the upcoming year would be their greatest yet.

550,000 people are fighting breast cancer in the UK, a figure expected to double by 2030

But the news that came next devastated her world. With the current lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer one in every eight women in the UK, Jackie became that one. Her lump was indeed cancerous.

There was no way for her to prepare mentally or physically for the battles she was about to face. 

After completing her mastectomy, Jackie then faced weeks of injections for fertility preservation, began to lose her hair, and discovered strange skin marks as a result of radiotherapy. 

Instead of planning her dream wedding, Jackie spent the remainder of 2014 bravely fighting the clutches of cancer.

Nearly 60,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, as well as 350 men.

- Breast Cancer Haven [2016]

A Heavenly Retreat

However, looking back on that challenging 11 months, it's not just the physical pain and anguish that Jackie remembers, but the psychological torment that came alongside the disease.

‘It wasn’t the surgery, the hospitals or the pain I had to fear,’ explains Jackie. ‘It was the times when I was alone, struggling with my mind, my rehab and my weight gain’. 

This is where the help of the Breast Cancer Haven came in, at one of the most crucial times on Jackie’s journey.

At their five centres across the UK, the charity cares for women receiving cancer treatment by offering psychological and social support – through a range of therapies, advice, techniques and classes – which Jackie regularly took part in.

"I didn’t feel like a cancer sufferer [at the Haven]. I felt like a friend."

- Jackie Scully

‘I want to tell you about the Look Good, Feel Better course held at The Haven where I finally learned how to apply green primer without resembling Kermit the Frog, and the Shiatsu that helped my whole body relax' says Jackie, speaking to Breast Cancer Haven online.

'I want to tell you about the delicious beef and prune casserole from The Haven’s recipe book that helped me go the toilet, when I thought I would never go to the toilet again.’

To Jackie, the Haven became a sanctuary – the one place where she didn’t feel relegated to the status of a patient, a body, or a passive observer of her own cancer battle. 

Speaking of her experience there, she said: ‘With its promise of appointments without anxiety or anaesthetic, I didn’t feel like a cancer sufferer. I felt like a friend.’ 

Jackie was offered psychological, social and physical support at the Haven

Providing Crucial Care

In the UK alone, there are an estimated 550,000 women – and men – currently fighting breast cancer. But whilst more and more people are surviving for longer, research suggests that this figure will double by 2030.

This means that in just ten years’ time, over 1.1 million people will be living with the disease.

Jackie continues to stand by the fact that the Haven’s support was key to her personal recovery journey – unsure of where she would be without their psychological support and comfort. 

‘The Haven helped me focus on my smile and let my hospital care team get on with fighting the cancer,' says Jackie.

‘Breast cancer stripped me bare and while I will be forever grateful to the people who saved my life, it was The Haven that put me back together again.’

Please note that names may have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved. Images are used for illustrative purposes only and, unless specified, persons included in images are posed models, not the persons mentioned in the article.