How cancer brought these two Sheffield women together to become the best of friends

'Bosom buddies' Glynis Kempshaw and Lorraine Dewsbury's friendship was formed at a time of uncertainty and fear.

Tuesday, 19th December 2017, 5:46 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th December 2017, 6:05 pm
Glynis (left) and Lorraine chat away at Weston Park Cancer Charity Support Centre

They sit chatting over a cup of coffee at Weston Park's Cancer Charity Support Centre - a place which put their minds at rest as they battle breast cancer.

Both joke about not having Prince Harry to come and interview them like the royal did for Barack Obama. They chat away like they don't have care in the world.

Glynis Kempshaw and Lorraine Dewsbury were back at the centre to share their experiences

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But it was very different for Lorraine who candidly revealed she was a 'nervous wreck' and 'withdrawn' while Glynis describes the centre as life changing.

Glynis, aged 66 from Halfway is currently undergoing treatment for secondary breast cancer and Lorraine, 63, from Killamarsh, who has not long finished chemo, met on the centre's 'Positive About Life' course. They've never looked back.

The centre isn't just a place to have a chat, it also provides welfare advice, legal support and therapies to name a few.

Glynis was diagnosed with primary breast cancer in 1995 and despite having plenty of support at home, the specialist support centre wasn't around.

Weston Park Cancer Charity Support Centre staff Fiona Ball, Karen Holmes and Hannah Hall

"This place is brilliant. I find if I am worried about things I can hop on the bus or get in the car and come and have a chat.

"It takes a lot of pressure away. I first came down when I got told about me having secondary breast cancer with my husband because he was beside himself. I got involved as much as I can and that's when I met Lorraine.

"We live near each other and we decided to walk down to the tram together and we were chatting away. Lorraine was quite shy and withdrawn and I hope I've helped her through it by coming here.

"The staff are absolutely wonderful - I've told so many people about this place. I honestly can't thank them enough for how they've helped me through everything that I've gone through.

Glynis Kempshaw and Lorraine Dewsbury were back at the centre to share their experiences

She stops in her tracks as her emotions rise to the surface. She's quickly she's handed a tissue by centre worker Hannah and continues to laud the centre.

Lorraine's world came crashing down. She was made redundant from her job and soon after found out she had breast cancer just like Glynis.

"I didn't know anybody who had cancer, I didn't understand cancer. I was a nervous wreck and I came here," she said.

"It wasn't just people with breast cancer, it was people with loads of different types. There was a young girl with a brain tumour for example and I couldn't believe that I was coming across all these people.

Weston Park Cancer Charity Support Centre staff Fiona Ball, Karen Holmes and Hannah Hall

"I too found it incredibly difficult to talk about it. It sounded like I was ashamed to say I had cancer, it was really odd thinking about it.

After some thought, Lorraine came down to the centre and when she found a friend in Glynis who didn't mind answering questions about her own battle, she realised she wasn't alone.

"When we head up to the centre and sit on the tram together, we don't talk about cancer, we talk about everything. What's going off at Christmas, what we fancy doing next week. Just things like that.

Lorraine plans to do some volunteering for the charity promoting the centre as much as she can. She doesn't want other people to go through this alone.

"I want people to know the support I had. I was depressed, I was terrified of life and with Glynis helping me through," she said.

The support centre isn't run by the NHS, money generously donated to Weston Park Cancer Charity goes into running the facility.

Both women agreed that they didn't always wanted to talk about cancer with their close family - mainly because they wouldn't know how to approach the subject and felt, strangely, somewhat a burden.

Even around Christmas time, centre staff tell service users how to handle questions from family members and even to shut the conversation about the 'elephant in the room' down.

And the facility doesn't shut down over Christmas - quite the opposite. It's only closed on bank holidays and provides a lifeline for those patients who may not have family in Sheffield or anyone to turn to.

Centre manager Karen Holmes said: "Over Christmas, we find it's either great for patients to have the family round and have that support or it can be very stressful.

"Some ask how to handle to obvious questions of cancer when they don't want to talk about it at Christmas. We offer practical advice on how to shut that down.

"We only close on Bank Holidays and we're here for people between the period of Christmas and New Year because not everyone has that support."

To make a donation to Weston Park Cancer Charity, click here