Word on Health

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In Profile - Jo's Story

Jo was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2014 and discovered Penny Brohn through our Treatment Support Clinic, providing her with what she feels is unconditional and unique support.

I turn 35 years old in 2015. Penny Brohn was started in the same year and city as I was born, but I confess that I had never heard of it until after I received a diagnosis of breast cancer… Yet it has provided me with unconditional support since then.

Finding a lump in your breast is a sobering event at any age. For me initially it was a time of overwhelm and uncertainty because there is so much information out there and everyone has advice to give.

Looking back, the most important thing for me at that time was that the treatment that I received was personal to me and that I had faith in its effectiveness.

At Penny Brohn I was given access to an open-minded team (including a doctor) who spent time with me to discuss statistics, the NHS and other alternative treatment options. They recommended books, supported me to ask the right questions to my consultant and to find a surgeon in Bristol.

This allowed me to create my own personal plan, which included a 6 week holiday in France, a privately paid oncotype test, a mastectomy (with immediate reconstruction), a strong dose of chemotherapy, juicing, supplements, meditating, visualising and a balanced and moderate eating plan.

The Penny Brohn courses and Treatment Support Clinics supported me through chemotherapy and surgery. This was through visualisations, meditations, healing sessions and acupuncture. Most importantly, I listened to others share their personal experiences of treatment and as a result made decisions about my treatment that I would have never known existed.

During one session, I received a prescription from the doctor to be “excessively gentle” to myself during chemo. Now where else in the World does a doctor prescribe that?!

The “C” word is emotive for everyone. The word itself can bring up questions of our own mortality for those with the diagnosis and those who are supporting. My parents were able to attend Treatment Support Clinics, receive support and share their own feelings. It is comforting to me to know that they

I had always been an “all or nothing” kind of girl.  Running my own business as a lawyer, I was always striving to do more, be more and have more. Despite several “burn outs”, I hadn’t yet learned that my life choices around food, alcohol, work and stress may have had a negative effect on my body.

I used to be annoyed by people telling me to “slow down” and seek “balance” in my life. Joy and happiness had been squeezed out to make room for more ‘important’ tasks.

The Bristol Whole Life Approach gave me some small ideas to support personalised changes and a new way of living that included rest, relaxation and loving what I do.


It has been an amazing year. Thank-you Penny Brohn and to all who provide support.

With over 35 years’ pioneering experience, Penny Brohn UK understands that cancer impacts every part of a person’s life and the number affected is increasing.

It is the UK’s leading charity offering whole person support, its Bristol Whole Life Approach – focused on the person and family’s mind, body, spirit and emotions, before, during and after treatment.

Penny Brohn UK’s free adult residential and day courses empower people to have more control of their health and wellbeing, to turn a potentially devastating diagnosis into a powerful life-changing experience.

The charity focuses on areas such as diet, exercise and managing stress, through courses, one-to-one therapies, groups, a treatment support clinic and national helpline.

Penny Brohn UK wants to reach as many people as possible, but relies on donations.

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