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‘Relationships can buckle under something as serious as a cancer diagnosis,’ Sue says. ‘But counselling can really help adults, children, young people and families to talk about the tough stuff, on their own or together. This support is very individual and may be required at different times, for example at diagnosis, during treatment or after treatment.’
The service has now been running for 15 months and aims to:
- help couples, families and individuals make relationships work better
- help people talk to each other
- develop coping strategies
Relate has been working with their clinical team, trustees and Macmillan to develop measures to evaluate the service and to note the changes people experience as a result of counselling. This has included the collection of data from evaluation questionnaires.
The service aims to double its caseload and increase referrals to sex therapy by 2012. It has recently started a pilot ‘drop in’ service at the Macmillan Information Centre at University Hospital of South Manchester. Sue says this will give quick and easy access to counselling and hopefully raise the profile of the service. People will also be able to get support and information from the Macmillan information and support manager.
Macmillan, in partnership with Relate Cymru|, funds five Macmillan Relate counsellors to provide help and support to people in Wales.
Macmillan Relate counsellors Claire Lewis, Dr Rachel Davies and Ray Jones will be offering specialised support to people affected by cancer in an area stretching from Carmarthenshire to Bridgend. Claire will be supporting families in the Carmarthenshire area. She says cancer has a huge impact on families.
‘As well as the physical effects, people respond to the news in different ways and this can put new strains on a relationship. For some people it will bring them together, but for others it will create issues. We can help people work through a very difficult time in their lives.’
Cath Lindley, General Manager for Macmillan in Wales says, ‘Cancer can leave a lasting impact on a person long after treatment ends. People usually think of the hair loss and other side effects of cancer, but often it is how it affects a person’s feelings about themselves that can be most distressing. This has an impact on the people around them.’
People can be referred to the Macmillan Relate Cymru counselling service through social workers, Macmillan professionals and nurses, their GP, or they can refer themselves by contacting Relate Cymru|.
1. Macmillan Cancer Support. Worried sick: the emotional impact of cancer| [PDF, 150kb]. April 2006.
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