When Gillian was diagnosed with cancer in 2018, it was a complete shock. She never had any health issues and was at her peak fitness when the diagnosis came. “I had just been selected for promotion…then life stopped! Following my treatment, I expected to get back to ‘normal’ immediately. That was almost a year ago and I have found that the ‘normal’ I craved hasn’t been quite as straightforward to achieve.” Gillian, 40, stopped all physical training following her diagnosis which has resulted in chronic back pain and referrals back to the hospital for nuclear bone scans to ensure the cancer hasn’t returned. Her medication causes fatigue and joint pain. “I have been plagued with dark thoughts, convincing myself that the cancer will return and I will have to leave my children. Becoming involved in Invictus has demonstrated to me that I don’t need to go back to that ‘normal’ but that I can rewrite my script. I nearly cancelled; I nearly gave up on my recovery. I cannot explain how thankful I am that I didn’t. To be part of such a supportive community was invaluable.
I feel that I’m now ready to start moving forward thanks to Invictus.” Her overall goal is to utilise the support of the Invictus community to rebuild her own sense of self-identity; cancer took a huge chunk of that. Already a keen powerlifter, Gillian had always been afraid to dive into a swimming pool but decided to face my fears and give swimming a try at the sports camps. With the encouragement of her Invictus team-mates, she achieved her first-ever dive. “It was incredible. Knowing that I had overcome a 40-year mental block was hugely empowering. My goal is to fully overcome that fear and dive into a pool and swim a decent length, at the Invictus Games.”