31 January 2011
Peter and Fiona Thomas
Macmillan Cancer Support today launches a campaign calling for a national cancer strategy for Wales.
View this page in Welsh / Gweld y dudalen hon yn Gymraeg.|
The Change Cancer Care Today campaign is being launched to encourage political parties to put cancer services at the forefront of their manifestos ahead of May’s Assembly election.
The charity is launching a short film, which tells the story of a Welsh couple affected by cancer and explains how a cancer strategy would help improve care in Wales. The film will be screened this evening to an invited audience of politicians, the media, people affected by cancer and health professionals at the Wales Millennium Centre.
Cath Lindley, general manager for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, says the film illustrates the problems faced by people affected by cancer and sets out what is needed to support them throughout their treatment and beyond. She said:
'The film tells the story of Peter Thomas and his wife, Fiona, from the day Peter was diagnosed to after his last hospital appointment. He talks about the support that he needed but which was sadly lacking.
'The film is an accessible way of explaining the devastating impact cancer has on the whole of people’s lives and the changes that are needed to address people’s unmet needs. Sadly, support for people with cancer in Wales is patchy and inconsistent which means Peter and Fiona’s experience is mirrored in towns, cities and villages all over Wales.
'Wales needs a cancer strategy which addresses these challenges and ensures that everybody gets support that is tailored to their own needs.'
The film, entitled The Journey tells the story of Peter Thomas from Foelgastell, Carmarthenshire. In it, he explains how he felt the moment he received his diagnosis:
'I had Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma resulting in a six centimetre tumour in my chest. I found it very hard to come to terms with. Treatment started almost straight away. It felt like it was the beginning of a long journey and you’ve no idea when it’s going to end.
'It’s a trip into the unknown so you don’t know where you’re going next. There’s a lot of information out there but you need help to make sense of it.' He added.
Peter underwent 18 months of gruelling treatment that included eight cycles of chemotherapy, three weeks of radiotherapy as well as a stem cell transplant that saw him confined to a month in isolation. But he said that it was the period after this that he found the hardest:
'They told me that the treatment had been successful but it was like being pushed into a darkened room and having the door closed behind me.'
In the film Fiona says that better support after the treatment would have helped them both.
'It has been a long journey and it hasn’t stopped yet. We had so many questions we needed answered but we didn’t know who to talk to.' She said.
Cath Lindley says Wales needs a national cancer strategy to ensure that people right across Wales get the support they need when they need it. She said:
'More than 100,000 people are living with cancer in Wales today and by 2030 that number will have doubled. Cancer is the second biggest killer in Wales but thanks to earlier diagnosis and improved treatment more and more people are surviving and living longer.
'Macmillan wants to see a national cancer strategy which not only provides everybody in Wales with first class clinical treatment but also, ongoing support and high quality care that is tailored to their long term needs.
'People need information and support to cope with the financial, emotional and practical impact of cancer and they need to be able to access help at the time of diagnosis, during and beyond treatment, as well as at the end of life.'
Commenting on the film, Ms Lindley added:
'We want as many people as possible to see this film so they understand how vital a cancer strategy is to improving the lives of people living with cancer.'
Macmillan is calling on politicians from all the main political parties to push for greater support for people affected by cancer.
Macmillan would like every candidate in this year’s Assembly election to see the film and pledge their support for a national cancer strategy for Wales.
The charity is also asking people all over Wales to watch the film and sign up to join its Change Cancer Care Today campaign. You can watch The Journey at www.macmillan.org.uk/waleselection