Sarah-Jane Phillips is a mother, wife, two-time cancer survivor and author. After successfully overcoming Hodgkin’s Disease at the age of 16, Sarah went to University, married, and had two daughters. Then, in her 30s, she was diagnosed again – this time with triple negative breast cancer.
Sarah’s practical outlook and her sense of humour saw her through two mastectomies and several rounds of chemotherapy. As a thank-you to the doctors and nurses at the NHS who helped her through her treatment, Sarah wrote a book called Worms on Parachutes: Mystical Allies In My Cancer Survival. The book is a practical and compelling account of Sarah’s experience with breast cancer and the emotional ups and downs that come with a cancer diagnosis.
We spoke with Sarah about her diagnosis, what it was like writing her book, and her top tips for living with cancer.
Here’s what Sarah had to say:
- When you’re going through your treatment, always plan something after your appointments to give yourself something to look forward to. It might just be something small – like meeting friends for lunch. I think it [socialising] helps to make you feel normal again after your treatment. And, you know, you need to get yourself up and out of bed. It feels nice to go meet friends.
- Don’t be hard on yourself for feeling really sad – if you feel really sad. Give yourself time to cry. It’s completely natural to feel this way.
- Listen to your body lots. Get lots of rest when you need to.
- Accept all offers of help – especially when it comes to accepting meals. Don’t try to be a martyr or think you can do it all yourself. Just take it easy and make the most of any help that is offered to you.
And, most importantly…
- Make sure you get your “5 a day” of fruits and vegetables. Keep yourself really, really healthy. I remember buying myself a juicer and I juiced lots of fruits and vegetables together, as I think the juices taste a lot better that way – especially when you serve it with ice cubes.
I definitely feel that everyone looks to improve their diet after a cancer diagnosis. I think it’s as a way of taking control of our bodies. And juicing – or making smoothies – is an excellent way of feeding your body with the extra nutrients and vitamins it needs.
And with that, to back up the healthy eating, you should try to take regular physical exercise. Even if it’s just going for a nice walk – something that makes you feel more positive.
If you’d like to hear more from our conversation with Sarah, tune in to Episode 1 of Cancer Companion – the podcast about daily living and cancer.