Viv and Ian on support every step of the way

Tuesday 07 May 2024

Maggie's Edinburgh

Viv and Ian look happy on the sofa at Maggie's

When I got my original breast cancer diagnosis, I was told that I would only need a lumpectomy, radiotherapy and tablets. And I felt kind of ok about that. But then things changed in the autumn, the diagnosis changed to grade three.

But then things changed in the autumn, the diagnosis changed to grade three. I was told I would need chemotherapy, as well as second surgery, radiotherapy and tablets. And that was when I had – what I would call – my wobble.

I felt very worried, scared, anxious. My head was all over the place. And that’s when I said to Ian, we need to go to Maggie’s. We checked on the website and it said you didn’t need an appointment, you could just walk in – so the very next day we went down and walked in. I just walked in and said, ‘Hello I’m Vivienne Calder, and I’ve got breast cancer’ and burst into tears.


When you go to the hospital, the patient is in complete shock. You get that diagnosis, and your life maybe doesn’t stop, but the head’s all over the place, and you’re not taking in the information from the surgeons and doctors.

And you’ve got all these leaflets, which is all fine and well reading through in black and white, but a lot of that raises more questions than answers. Whereas getting into Maggie’s, and speaking to the team there, it’s a lot better explained, and you’re able to understand the information better.  

That first visit


I was welcomed by a volunteer, who asked the right questions, and introduced me to Caroline, the Centre Head, who took time to listen, talked me through it, reassured me, and helped me reframe my anxiety. 

When we left, although nothing had changed about my cancer diagnosis, I was just mentally in a much better place.

I signed up for any and all the courses that were available. I went to Prehabilitation, all about health and exercise and the mind, then Chemo Talks (Getting Started), so we knew what to expect when we started treatment.

They gave you lots of hints and tips, how to prepare for treatment, what to expect. I then went to Talking Heads, about how to wear turbans, bandanas, wigs, and then Look Good Feel Better, how to apply makeup as you lose hair and eyebrows.

Going forward, when I finish treatment, I’ll go to Where Now, a weekly course to help you adjust back into life after your treatment has finished.

And they’re so knowledgeable, so experienced, you can ask any question, no question is silly. These people get it.

Friends and family haven’t been through the cancer journey – and they just get it. They can almost anticipate what you’re going to say. They helped me get my head back in order.

Viv and Ian talk to centre head Kerry

Caring for each other


I’ve had people in my family with cancer before, but nothing like this. I just saw the initial effect on Viv, and I had to think “How am I going to help support her?”. I was asking questions of Viv. She was giving me the best answers she could at the time.

But once we got into Maggie’s, it was like someone had changed the lightbulb – things just got that bit lighter and easier. I found that very helpful, because I could see how I could support you.  

I’ve not asked Maggie’s how they can help me directly. But the staff at Maggie’s just made it so much easier to understand.

As the partner you go through quite a lot, but it’s maybe all in the head. It just opens the door, makes it more explainable and understandable.  


The architecture, the design, the furniture – it all feels like a hug. Although you’re in the hospital grounds, but it feels as though you might be a million miles away from the hospital. It’s just so lovely, so welcoming, so caring.  


At Maggie’s, I gained an insight into what my partner was going through, which helped me to support her on this journey.


At Maggie’s, I felt welcomed, listened to, supported, loved, and not alone.

We’re here with you

Our cancer support specialists, psychologists and benefits advisors are here for everyone with cancer, and all the people who love them.

Come and see us at your nearest Maggie’s, call us on 0300 123 180 or email us at

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