18 March 2016
This month Macmillan Cancer Support is supporting the Beth Johnson Foundation which is the national charity dedicated to making the UK age-friendly and whose roots are in Stoke-on-Trent.
Staffordshire and Wolverhampton Cancer Advocacy and Support Project Manager, Kathleen Curley (pictured) works in partnership with the Beth Johnson Foundation and Macmillan Cancer Support. She says: “My role is to manage the Volunteer Co-ordinators and to establish the service across Staffordshire and Wolverhampton. Our team supports older people (50+) affected by cancer, and this can be the patient, the relatives or even the carers. No matter what your circumstances; nobody should face cancer alone.”
The significance of being a part of Macmillan Cancer Support is not lost on Kathleen as she says herself about her job: “Macmillan has a good reputation and is a trusted brand. People recognise the Macmillan brand and therefore have confidence in the service we can offer. “
One particular story which has stuck with Kathleen is that of Joan, a 78-year-old woman who was referred to the advocacy service when she was due to be discharged from hospital. She tells us: “The staff nurse who referred Joan was concerned about her isolation when she returned home as Joan lives on her own in a rural village and has no close relatives. As she is undergoing treatment for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and had been suffering from depression when she was admitted to hospital, we knew that she needed the extra support Beth Johnson can offer. I went to visit her in hospital and we talked about what she might want to do when she goes home and what her interests were; I agreed to do some research about what was available in and around her village.
“Once she was discharged I visited her at home to check that she had enough support and to discuss the potential social activities I had found for her. Joan wasn’t coping very well on her own and was concerned with even the smallest of details as we know that it is the small things in life which can go on hold when you're going through cancer; showering, cooking, the worry of paying bills - and thanks to all the work we have put into our services we were able to help Joan with these everyday things. We also wanted to ensure Joan was as sociable as possible so we found her a Widows’ Group which she goes along to with her neighbour as we appreciate that while you’re going through cancer you still want to live.”
In addition to these projects, there is a new partnership launching shortly with Macmillan Cancer Support; The Over 50s Cancer Lifestyle Project. Working closely with a local community gym, Whitfield Valley Centre this project will deliver a lifestyle service to those who are recovering from cancer. The service is open to anyone living in North Staffordshire over the age of 50 at any stage of their cancer journey, even if they finished treatment many years ago.
Encouraging these people to take a holistic approach to managing their health by providing information and guidance on the benefits of physical activity and implementing a healthy diet, the project aims to ensure that individuals achieve long-term lifestyle behaviour changes which benefits their health and wellbeing.
If you're facing cancer, you're not alone.Get in touch with Macmillan Cancer Support if you have any questions about cancer; visit www.macmillan.org.uk or call 0808 808 00 00.