Mental health is a journey many of us go on and is not something to be ashamed of. In May 2016, I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer known as PAWS-GIST. Receiving the diagnosis took the wind out from underneath me.

I had always been known by friends, family and colleagues as an upbeat, loud and smiling character, but in that moment, I sat in a small yellow office with an oncologist and I was broken. Not only had I been told I had cancer, but it also didn’t have a cure.

I was fortunate enough that they discovered it when they did, and the type of cancer I had was a slow growing one, but still, what did that mean for me? It meant I spent the next 7 years fighting.

Not just fighting cancer, but fighting the emotional turmoil it was about to take me on, and it was a fight, at that moment in my life, I wasn’t ready for mentally. I was put on chemotherapy tablets, which I took every day for nearly 18 months, then in 2017 I underwent a life-saving surgical procedure called Partial Gastrectomy with Roux en Y procedure at the Royal Marsden hospital.

My surgery was a success. I should have been over the moon, but I was unprepared for what living with a 9-inch scar on my body would do to me. For someone who has always suffered from body image, and what that meant for me in the aftermath of being left with an imperfection, was absolutely terrifying. No amount of reading and research could have prepared me for the mental health journey I was on. I no longer knew who I was, I felt like everyone just saw Kayleigh, the cancer patient. I had lost my identity, and I had lost my sparkle.

Every day, I threw myself into work just to get by. I made sure every minute of every day was busy, so I didn’t have to face reality. I needed to show the world I was ok, but behind what I now call the Kayleigh mask, I wasn’t. I was hurting, I was scared, and I felt incredibly alone.

My life had become endless trips to hospital appointments and I needed to find a way to calm my never-ending racing mind, because the endless sleepless nights and hours of crying alone in the bathroom were becoming too much to bear. So I learnt to mediate, I read books on self-worth and decided from this point of my life there had to come something positive.

I started my qualifications in counselling. Helping others has always been something that is so important to me, and through my own journey and meeting so many people from all walks of life, I realised how many of us suffer in silence. How many of us go into autopilot just to make it through the day. At some point on this rollercoaster of life, I made the decisions. These feelings I was experiencing were no longer an option for me. I never want people to feel alone or go to the dark places I did, and I needed to make a change, but how?

Along came Bobby… Bobby is an incredibly strong and determined man. Sadly, with what happened to him, it meant that I ended up spending a lot of time with Bobby as one of his support staff through my previous job. Bobby and I both had the drive to help others who might be suffering, and over a cup of tea one morning came The Bobby Copping Foundation.

My journey continued, and I have since gone on to have SIRT internal radiotherapy in Liverpool, normal radiotherapy, and most recently, at the start of 2023, another big operation. But I coped, and I got through another surgery.

The fear of undergoing surgery and possibly not winning never left me but I have been so extremely lucky with the amazing doctors, surgeons and NHS staff I have been blessed with and I am now in remission. I love all my imperfections because they make me who I am, and I am proud of her.

I have had some incredible and inspiring people surrounding me. People who have carried me and made me realise I am still the Kayleigh I was before this journey began. I have been able to develop the tools and coping mechanisms to be able to deal with everything and I finally feel in an amazing place and a better version of myself.

Sadly, so many people need that guiding hand, so many need that hand to support them on their way and that is why at the foundation, we have made it our mission to educate people on mental health awareness, their own mental health and, where needed, provide free counselling so that no one we help suffers in silence. Mental health doesn’t define us. Together, we are stronger.


Anyone can make a referral through to the Foundation by using the referral link, or should you have any questions
or wish to speak with a member of the Bobby Copping Foundation team first please get in touch.
Should you be interested in becoming a preferred counsellor at The Bobby Copping Foundation please get in touch.