As a Macmillan clinical psychologist, Marilyn supports people who’ve been referred to her by their nurse or doctor. It’s her role to help them cope with the feelings and experiences a cancer diagnosis can bring.
‘I aim to offer a safe space that allows people to find their own natural resources and resilience to manage what they’re going through,’ says Marilyn.
‘People’s emotions can be overwhelming. They’re told that they have a life-threatening illness then quite quickly have to go through very demanding treatment. On top of that, they have to continue being a mother, father, going to work, picking up the kids from school.’
After Ashley was diagnosed with cancer, he and his wife Lara benefited from Marilyn’s support. Marilyn says: ‘My real concern about Ashley and Lara was that they could’ve become very isolated. They live out in rural Shropshire and, although they have good support from family and friends, sometimes people need to talk to somebody who’s a little bit separate from that.’
As well as grants for train fares to London for treatment , Marilyn also helped Ashley to successfully apply for another Macmillan grant. This went towards the creation of a photography diary about his radiotherapy treatment, so he could share his experience with others going through the same experiences as him.
‘These beautiful photos tell the story of his experience,’ says Marilyn. ‘We were able to display them in hospital waiting areas as well as in galleries, sharing Ashley’s resilience and creativity. The project was important for both of us.’
For Marilyn, being part of Ashley’s and Lara’s journey meant a lot. Marilyn says: ‘I think the great thing about working with them has been their ability to talk about even the most difficult things with me – and to have the courage to talk to each other about them.
‘To see Ashley come through what he’s come through. To see how he’s coped with such difficult times, and the resilience he’s shown – it’s a privilege.’
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