Finding Hope & a New Calling: Louise’s Journey from Teacher to Counsellor during her Breast Cancer Battle

Life has a way of throwing unexpected challenges our way, but how we respond to them truly defines us. Louise, a dedicated year 7 teacher, faced a formidable adversary in 2021: breast cancer. The journey that followed was filled with chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy. In the midst of her battle, Louise discovered the power of counselling and was amazed at the impact it had on her. She decided to help others the way she had been helped by her counsellors, and enrolled on our Counselling Diploma Level 3.

The Power of Seeking Help: Overcoming Resistance

Reflecting on her initial resistance to seeking counselling during her treatment, Louise recounts the persistence of her breast care nurses, Tara and Cassia.

“Tara kept saying to me: ‘What do you think about some counselling?’ Because I became very anxious and worried. I’ve always been very particular, but I became very anxious and worried and all the rest of it. Cassia and Tara kept saying the same thing to me: ‘Would you like us to arrange some counselling?’ and I would say ‘No, no, I’m absolutely fine, I don’t need any counselling, I don’t need any help, I don’t need any support.’ So I battled on, and every time I went to see them the same question would come up.”

It wasn’t until a year after her diagnosis, during the February half term of 2022, that she recognised that maybe some support wouldn’t go amiss and decided to embrace counselling.

“I came to realise that actually, I did need help and support to come up with some strategies to cope. I went in to see Tara during the February half term, and I said: ‘Before you ask me, yes I would like some support.’ Straight away she did a referral. I started to see a Macmillan counsellor who specialised in breast cancer. It began to make such a difference to me.”

The ten sessions she had with this counsellor made a massive difference to Louise, helping her develop strategies to cope with the challenges she faced.

Transitioning to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Following her ten sessions with the Macmillan counsellor, Louise transitioned to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). She was initially apprehensive about this change in treatment and counsellor.

“I was a little bit concerned, because I’d been told I was going to be seen by a young, almost qualified counsellor. I thought: ‘This isn’t going to work! I’m 64/65 years old, it’s just not going to work out.’ Well, how wrong I was! She was an absolute delight, absolutely brilliant, just like the other counsellor had been from Macmillan.”

Discovering Online Counselling Courses

The impact of counselling went deeper than Louise’s personal experience. She recognised the value of the knowledge she gained in her counselling sessions and saw how it could positively impact others. Louise became inspired to support and guide other people. This led her to take to the internet, eventually coming across the Association of Learning and our range of counselling courses.

“I realised that you come across parts of your life when you do need support, and it’s just lovely to know that there’s people there for you,” Louise shared.

“I found this course, and I mentioned wanting to take it to the school where I work. School actually said ‘Well, we’ll pay for you to do the Counselling Diploma Level 3!’ So that was even better! It has been a really amazing course for me. In the situation I was in, it just really brought everything together for me.”

Mastering Online Learning: Dedication & Deadlines

Louise was pleased that the Level 3 counselling diploma gave her the ability to complete her studies over 12 months, and she actually ended up completing the course in less time. She credited her speedy finish to her proactive approach to the assignments. Louise set herself some firm deadlines and held herself to them, resulting in her breezing through each unit.

“I’d never done an online course! The experience of studying online was pretty good, I knew I could always email my tutor Annette if I needed any advice. I gave myself deadlines, and I handed in my assignments for the next eight months at the end of each month. It all worked beautifully! I did lots of reading. As soon as I finished one unit, I started researching the next. You couldn’t see the questions on the next unit until you’d had the feedback from the previous one, to make sure you’d got the idea. So I used to start reading and looking up some website references. And then as soon as I could see the questions, I would then delve into specific things. I would spend two weekends where I would do my writing on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Then I used to take the bull by the horns on a Sunday evening at the end of the month and spend about six hours going through it and changing things. I always had more words than I needed, it was a case of condensing and editing myself down.”

With the help of her tutor Annette, Louise knew she could tackle any issues that popped up during her studies. When referencing her sources in her work proved a bit challenging, Annette was able to refresh Louise’s memory about Harvard referencing, providing resources and support to help Louise grasp the concept.

“I did find her feedback was very, very good. Because initially when I was in teacher training I heard about Harvard referencing, but I’d totally forgotten! I remember sending my first assignment to her and saying ‘The referencing is going to be rubbish, but I think the work is fine.’ She sent me back a note that gave me some indicators where I could quickly find some up to date info on referencing. Annette was lovely, she really encouraged me because I think she knew I was a bit nervous on the first assignment. But the course really followed through and just made so much sense to me having been where I’d been the last couple of years. I know it’s a unique situation in some respects, but these things happen, don’t they?”

Making a Difference

Louise’s Journey on the Counselling Level 3 course has been nothing short of amazing. It tied together her life experience over the last few years, helping her through her treatment and recovery, and giving her a new calling and goal. The course structure and content resonated deeply with her, considering the unique circumstances she had faced. She’s begun to use what she learned in her every-day life, bringing counselling techniques and concepts into her work with her students.

“I’ve been able to use what I’ve learned with some of my year sevens. I’ve been able to help the girls, these 12 year olds having friendship issues with advice and things that I’ve not really thought about before, despite the fact that I’ve been in education for 40 years! It’s really made me think a bit more, think a little deeper,” Louise said.

“At my ripe old age of 65, I’ve come to realise that yes, there are times where you need people to support you and help you. And it’s good to have those people. I would love to be one of those people and help someone else in the way I’ve been helped.”

Continuing the Journey

Now armed with newfound knowledge and a burning desire to make a difference, Louise is taking the time to enjoy a well-deserved summer break. However, her ambitions remain high as she sets her sights on delving deeper into the realm of CBT on another course. Louise’s story has certainly inspired us at AoL HQ. It reminds us that no matter what challenges we face or at what stage of life we find ourselves, it is never too late to embark on a new path, to learn, and to grow. The resilience and determination she’s displayed throughout her cancer battle and her commitment to becoming a counsellor demonstrate the unwavering spirit of a true learner.

The Association of Learning are here to guide you every step of the way, providing flexible and accessible online courses and experienced tutors. Whether you’re seeking personal growth, a a career change, or the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others, we’re here for you.

To learn more about our counselling courses, click here.

To browse our course catalogue and see if your interests could result in a new career, click here.

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