Macmillan improves the lives of people affected by cancer locally. We provide practical, medical, emotional and financial support and push for better cancer care. Cancer affects us all. We can all help. We are Macmillan in Somerset.
'Focus On' Macmillan in Somerset
This October for breast cancer awareness month, Melanie Whatley from Cerne Abbas is helping Macmillan to raise awareness of the side effects of living with and beyond the disease – one year on from her own diagnosis.
Melanie said after treatment was the hardest part; 'Everyone just expects you to bounce back after that, but you’re still healing both physically and mentally and some days you just cannot function and want to shut the world out. You get lots of twinges and things like that and are unsure if this is normal, but you don’t want to bother people, so you tend to keep it yourself and try to just get on with things.
'Whilst there are plenty of leaflets etc., that can give you guidance, there is nothing that makes up for speaking to a person who knows what you are going through and has experience the same emotions and fears. If you contact your breast cancer nurse, they may be able to help or put you in touch with a support group. Talking really does make a difference and having counselling has been a massive help. It helps you to re-set your mind frame.'
Caroline Macpherson, Macmillan Breast Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist at Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust says; 'With many more diagnosed with and surviving breast cancer, more and more people like Melanie are now living with the emotional and physical side effects of the disease and its treatment – some of which are not always expected or recognised.
'Most people have some side effects during and for a few weeks after treatment for breast cancer. Sometimes certain side effects may not go away. And, occasionally, people may develop side effects months, or even years, after treatment.
'These might include fatigue – this is probably the most common side effect of breast cancer treatment. It's a feeling of having no energy so it can be difficult to do even simple, everyday tasks. Lymphoedema – swelling in the arm – is a side effect that can occur during treatment or a long time afterwards.
'But it’s equally important to consider the emotional effects; people who’ve had treatment for primary breast cancer are often coping more with the psychological and emotional effects than physical ones. These effects can include worrying about whether the cancer might come back, dealing with changes in body image and general loss of confidence.'
Caroline concludes; 'The key message here is if you’re dealing with any of these side effects, you don’t have to face them alone. Talk to your GP, CNS or oncologist, go to your local Macmillan information and support centre, or look for support online. Whether it’s linking up with a support group, taking part in specialist physical activity, asking for a referral to a counsellor, or even just accessing information, there is plenty of help and support available which could make a positive difference to your quality of life.
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For fundraising support and information you can contact the Fundraising Support Team.
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Macmillan Cancer Support
87-90 Albert Embankment
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More about Macmillan in Somerset
Around 3000 people are diagnosed with cancer in Somerset every year and they need treatment and support. Macmillan Cancer Support provides practical, medical, emotional and financial support to people living with cancer, their families, friends and carers. Without the help of our fantastic supporters, we really couldn’t help so many local people affected by cancer. Whether you're retired or working, busy or with time to spare, you can really make a huge difference.
Macmillan Cancer Support is working in partnership with the NHS and Citizen’s Advice Bureau in the county to improve cancer treatment and care given to people with cancer and their families.
People in Somerset already benefit from more than 20 Macmillan professionals: nurses, doctors, therapists, counsellors, dieticians, social workers and information providers who are specialists in cancer care. They help people manage their symptoms and aim to make living with cancer easier.
We are currently funding a breast cancer nurse specialist and chemotherapy nurse specialist based in the Beacon Centre at Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton.
Someone to talk to
Macmillan is there for people with cancer, their families and friends, to talk, listen and understand what they are going through. Macmillan supports a network of self-help and support groups around the country. One such group is Somerset Cancer Care, a local charity who recently received a grant to expand their successful ‘Cancer For Everyone’ drop-in clinic. The grant has been put towards a co-ordinator to set up groups in Yeovil and Weston Super Mare.
Having cancer can bring extra costs – hospital parking and travelling expenses, extra heating or different clothes. Macmillan can help – last year we gave over nearly £63,000 in Macmillan grants to people in Somerset to help with some of these costs.
We are currently funding a Macmillan Benefits Advisor based at Yeovil District Hospital in conjunction with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. The adviser can offer specialist information to help ease financial concerns, including help with benefits, tax credits, grants and loans. You can speak to these advisers face-to-face or over the phone, and they'll help you work out what financial help you could be entitled to.
And the great news is we have just agreed to fund the same in Taunton, this new service again in conjunction with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau will make such a difference to people and the families living in the local area affected b y cancer.
Research done by Macmillan in 2010 showed that more than £1.9million in disability benefits is going unclaimed by people with terminal cancer in Somerset. The figure across the whole of the UK is a staggering £90.8m
Macmillan believes no one should be financially deprived as a result of their illness.
Having the right information about cancer at the right time is essential. The Macmillan free phone service, 0808 808 00 00, is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm, providing free information and emotional support for people living with cancer.
Macmillan is only able to provide support such as this thanks to the generosity of our many supporters.