Cancer survivor Laurinda Howarth created a Facebook group to help other survivors last month, and already it has more than 200 members.
Laurinda, 41, has been through cancer twice and says a key time when people need support is actually after treatment is over.
“My doctor said ‘see you in three months’, and that was both scary and exciting,” Laurinda says. “You are then faced with how to live your life, despite the fear that the rug could be pulled out from under you again at some stage.”
A life coach and personal trainer, Laurinda had some of the tools at her fingertips but she still needed support, including counselling, to recover and thrive.
“My turning point was asking for help,” she says.
Two years down the track, she says she is now in a position to help others.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be cancer-free, but there are also emotional scars. You think you should be feeling happy to be alive, but there are all the normal ups and downs of life.”
The page Laurinda set up, called ‘Cancer Led Me Here’, is a forum for people to talk about their experiences and support each other. It includes free training sessions and resources.
“My goal is to help people take back control, feel less isolated and find ways to move forward,” she says. “I’m finding that people communicate and lift each other up.”
She says a key thing she suggests is to shine a light on the future.
“How can we do the things we promised ourselves we would do, when we were lying on that bed?” she says. “Let’s focus on what we can do – but at the same time be kind and give ourselves permission not to always be positive.”
Look for Cancer Led Me Here on Facebook. It’s a private group, so you will need to apply to join.