As the wife of a farmer and volunteer firefighter on the Scottish Isle of Arran, Jane McAllister is used to belonging to a tight-knit community.
While recovering from breast cancer, she applied for a recuperative stay for her and her husband at Jubilee House, and it was here that she found another small, but perfectly formed, community that would play an important role in her recovery.
“When we went, it was less than a year since my diagnosis, and during that time I had gone through a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, so my confidence was low,” says Jane. “I’d remained strong while going through the cancer and treatment, because it was my way of coping while going through it. But afterwards, I felt very weepy and my emotions kept bubbling up. In Jubilee House, it was cossetting and comforting, everyone was so kind and couldn’t do enough for me.”
“We just went and did as little as possible, relaxing, and taking time to regroup. We weren’t there trying to do everything we could to make the most of our trip, we just stopped”
Jane was joined by her husband, Charlie, on what she describes as the ‘perfect halfway house’ between real life and a holiday: “I wasn’t ready to fly, but we needed to get away, so this was just right. We just went and did as little as possible, relaxing, and taking time to regroup. We weren’t there trying to do everything we could to make the most of our trip, we just stopped. Charlie had had to carry me through my illness, and being at Jubilee House reconnected us as a couple, rather than being a couple living with this illness as part of them.”
Charlie, now retired, worked as a volunteer firefighter for 32 years, and the couple met when he had first joined the service on the island. At his retirement party, not long after Jane received her diagnosis, a friend in the service suggested they contact The Fire Fighters Charity.
“We had no idea volunteer firefighters could be eligible for support from the Charity, let alone their wives,” says Jane. “I can’t tell you how much it meant to both of us, being able to go to Penrith when we did. It was just what we needed at the time, gave me a wee confidence boost, and a starting block to move on with our lives from.”
If you think you or a member of your family could benefit from support from The Fire Fighters Charity, get in touch today.