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Tracy’s Story

Tracy from Bideford was diagnosed with cancer in January 2023. She started a six-week course of treatment in March, travelling to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital every week day for radiotherapy, and having weekly chemotherapy at North Devon District Hospital. In June, Tracy was admitted to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth for major surgery to remove a tumour. She was contacted by The Fern Centre after her support nurses recommended she try complementary therapy to help with her recovery.

This is Tracy’s story…

When I received my diagnosis, to say it was a shock is an understatement! It was a really tough time.  I found it difficult to eat and even drink at times, and for a few months I had to have an NG tube fitted so that I could give myself food through the tube. This goes up the nose and down the throat and into the stomach. It was a joy to be able to eat via my mouth again – the lovely biscuits at The Fern Centre for example! – and I will never again not take time to enjoy every mouthful of food.

After surgery, and after many weeks of travelling for treatment and feeling really tired and slightly unwell, I just stayed at home. I had the best outcome, I could wish for, so I hoped I could get on with life like before, but all this had changed me.

After all of the trauma, and when all appointments stopped, I had feelings of being unsure and abandoned. I wasn’t but that’s how I felt. My husband, Steve, was wonderful through all of this, as was my rescue Beagle, Sam, who protected me and came and sat with me whenever I felt anxiety and despair. It was a truly wonderous thing to experience.

I was phoned by The Fern centre as my support nurses had put me on the list for some reiki. I hadn’t been able to get there before because I was in Exeter every day and my first visit to the centre was an eye-opener.

On just entering I felt a calm and understanding. This was certainly missing in my life at the time! I felt truly overwhelmed by what had happened, having now had time to think about all that had gone on. Fear was in my daily life and I struggled and am still struggling to deal with it.

Caroline, who provides reiki, put me right at ease and I felt so relaxed after the sessions, all provided for me. I started going to The Fern Centre at least half-an-hour before my appointments at the hospital so I could relax have a cup of tea and a biscuit, and chat with the lovely volunteers there, as well as people who had been through the same experience. Sometimes I just sit on my own, but there is a peace there which I’ve been craving for months! I’ve found it! It’s only a couple of hours a week or less, but I can go as often as I like. Somehow it gives me an inner strength. Everyone there just ‘gets it’. 

I’m having counselling there with Paul now, which I’ve found invaluable.


I really appreciate The Fern Centre and don’t take it as a given. I’m very lucky to have it there. Steve and I are musicians and have done fundraising for Over and Above (now known as Royal Devon Hospitals Charity) in the past. Now I’m benefitting from this wonderful charity, and look forward to being able to give more back.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

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