24 March 2016
Sharon, left, and Sue, right, the Macmillan Caseworkers at Headway West Midlands
March is Brain Tumour Awareness Month. Every year, over 9,000 people are diagnosed with brain and central nervous system tumours in the UK. So in Birmingham and Solihull, Macmillan is working with Headway West Midlands to provide emotional and practical support to individuals and families affected by both acquired brain injury and cancer.
Sharon Savage and Sue Ward are the Macmillan caseworkers at Headway and they help people with brain tumours, people who have cancer and are carers of someone with a brain injury, and people who have both a brain injury and cancer.
Sharon said: ‘One of the first people we helped when we started last year was a young lady who had suffered a stroke during treatment for terminal cancer. This severely affected her ability to communicate and her mobility. We arranged for a support worker from the Lifestyles department at Headway to help the lady get around and improve her communication. This improved her quality of life and helped her express her wishes more easily.’
When asked about the best part of her job, Sharon said: ‘Meeting the most amazing people! I get a lot of satisfaction from playing even a small role in improving someone’s situation at such an important time of their lives.’
Sharon and Sue have been working hard to promote their service and build relationships with a wide range of health and social care professionals, including the Macmillan Citizens Advice benefits service which Sharon refers people to when they need financial support. ‘They’re always helpful and quick to contact clients,’ said Sharon.
‘I’m very proud to be part of Macmillan as they have such a good reputation that it makes it easy for people to trust us as Macmillan caseworkers. I feel part of a team and benefit from the support of other professionals and Macmillan resources such as fantastic training opportunities.’
‘Last year I lost one of my best friends and my mom to cancer. I personally witnessed how Macmillan can make small but important differences at such a critical time in our lives.’
Sharon and Sue have also raised money for Headway and Macmillan by doing a cake sale with the people they support. And in November, Sharon ran a cross-country race for Macmillan.
Some of the signs and symptoms of brain cancer include:
- changes in personality or behaviour, or problems with thinking, reasoning and memory
These symptoms can be caused by other conditions. Headaches are a common symptom, often caused by stress. But you should see your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
No one should face cancer alone. For support, information or if you just want a chat, call Macmillan free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk