Alison Bowman is the Information and Support centre manager at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust in Hampstead, north London. She oversees a team of volunteers who support people affected by cancer in person, over the phone and by email.
By talking to people about their worries and fears they’re able to help people feel less alone.
One of the people Alison helped was Rocio. ‘She walked in and burst into tears, and she was just like a whirlwind of emotion, and she couldn’t even really put a sentence together.’ It wasn’t just Rocio either: Alison was also there for Rocio’s boyfriend, Jez.
‘We had a cup of tea and then we just talked. Nobody knows exactly what someone’s going through, and I think that can feel quite lonely.’ explained Alison.
For Rocio, Alison played a crucial role. Rocio says: ‘She gave me emotional support and a lot of support in clarity: clearing information up for me.’
Alison sees a lot of people who have got a cancer diagnosis and are going through treatment. But she also sees those who have finished treatment and don’t quite know what’s coming up next.
She’s also set up two support groups with the clinical nurse specialists. The people that come want to know more about their cancer or cancer in general and they like the social element to it.
Alison says: ‘I think at the beginning people don’t know what to ask or what to do. So I just try to help them manage little bits of information. Some people want to know everything. Some people want to know if they’re going to have surgery in a month’s time ... It’s such an individual thing.
‘I love my job, it’s really rewarding and I see lots of people who get given bad news and then recover from that bad news and the strength in their human spirit makes it a really rewarding job.’
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