5 Ways To Support Cancer Patients

Here’s how you can help out a friend or relative with a cancer diagnosis

Whether it’s the diagnosis of a close friend, relative or even a work colleague – it can be hard knowing how to react to such a drastic change to someone’s life.

Take the first step of supporting this person by engaging with them on a personal level and making sure that they don’t feel alone when they need your help the most. Don’t let your own inhibitions stop you from making a real difference to someone’s life, if you feel like someone needs a helping hand then you should.

Talk about it

The first step in supporting a friend with cancer is having a conversation with them. Before you start racking your brain for how you should bring up the subject of their illness, consider how they might feel. Sometimes it can be better to open up a relaxed dialogue and let the subject arise naturally, rather than barrelling head first into it.

When you choose to have this conversation is also important. Don’t pick a loud, hectic environment that might force you to raise your voice. Find a quiet secluded place where you can sit together and make sure to keep eye contact with them as much as possible. Just make sure you give them the time and space needed to talk to you in their own way.

Go for a walk

Although cancer treatments can often play havoc with the body, it’s still imperative that those going through treatment get some fresh air and exercise from time to time. If your previous attempts at broaching the topic of their disease have fallen flat, then a change in scenery might prove to be just the thing to help them open up.

Take your friend or relative out for walk somewhere pleasant. National Trust Gardens are affordable places to visit at any time of the year, especially if you’re still looking for a quiet place to talk. Otherwise, do some research and look at a short walk that you can take in your local community. Even a short walk can be an excellent help for mood and morale.

Organise a coffee morning

A coffee morning can be an easy way to engage members of your community in fundraising and can provide a great opportunity for people to talk about cancer in an open, relaxed environment. Many local venues, such as churches or halls, offer out their space for hire but will often consider to host your coffee morning for a cut price or even for free.

Once you’ve set a venue, you’ll need to publicise the event to make sure that you get plenty of people along. On the day, you’ll need a few helpers to give you a hand with crockery and setting up some tables. Don’t forget that it’s not a coffee morning unless there’s cake, make sure a few people bring along a couple of showstoppers to really wow your attendees and keep a few boxes around for donations.

Run for a charity

There’s never been a better time to get out running for charity. There are now well over a hundred running events that take place in the UK throughout the year. From the humble 5k run organised in your local village, to mammoth events such as the London Marathon; there’s a running event to suit all tastes.

Raising money for your chosen event is as easy as setting up a donation page on Just Giving (justgiving.co.uk). Of course, if you’d rather go back to basics with your fund raising strategy then you can always simply knock on doors in your local community with a clip board! Whichever distance you end up running, make sure that your friend with cancer knows they have your support.

Plan for the future

Supporting your friend or relative can also be as simple as making plans for the future. Whether it’s a walk to the park tomorrow, a dinner out next week or a concert in a month’s time; by organising activities ahead of schedule you can give them something to look forward to beyond their treatment.

The future can seem like an abstract concept when you’re given a cancer diagnosis. Plans for the next year are thrown into the air and you might find that you need to rearrange your schedule to fit in with your friend or relative.

What’s important is that you’re present for them when they need you most.

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A New Five-Year Strategy for Cancer Research

The NCRI launch their five-year strategy, Cancer patients skip the GP and one man makes an incredible recovery…

The National Cancer Research Institute has launched it’s five-year strategy today, with the hope of accelerating research into Cancer through meaningful collaboration.

Last year the national partnership, that brings together the 19 biggest fundraisers of cancer research, organised over 250 meetings with the aim of sharing goals amongst private and public sectors.

Karen Kennedy, the Director of the NCRI, has come forward to stress the ‘urgent need for collaboration to fund research that addresses the complex needs of cancer patients at every stage of their journey through and beyond cancer’.

By combining the individual strengths of each organisation, the NCRI has been able to address problems in research that would have otherwise gone unsolved. Over £6 billion has been spent on cancer research since the partnership was first set up back in 2001.

In other news…

A study, funded by Cancer Research UK and published in the British Journal of General Practice, has revealed that approximately one third of patients diagnosed with cancer as an emergency in England had not seen their GP before.

This information coincides with a similar report, assessing Cancer in-patients in North East Scotland, where 28% of all patients also went straight to the emergency room before talking to their doctor.

Further analysis of these two reports have revealed worrying statistics concerning the way potential cancer patients are being treated at initial GP meetings. Of the 1,800 patients that were involved in the Scottish report, around 1 in 5 were diagnosed with cancer as an emergency. Generally speaking, emergency cancer diagnoses often lead to later stage diseases and weaker survival rates.

Jodie Moffat, head of early diagnosis for Cancer Research UK had this to say:

‘For some patients, emergency presentation may be difficult to avoid, but for others there are often things that could have been done differently. Studies like this help us to understand this complex picture and identify what to change’.

And finally…

A piece of good news mined from the depths of 2016, a year that was declared to be ‘the worst ever’.

In 2011, Mike Chettle was diagnosed with late-stage bowel cancer which soon spread to his bone, liver and abdomen. Three years later, despite several serious operations, Mike found himself in constant pain and virtually paralysed by his illness.

Relentless rounds of chemotherapy did little to help, leaving him with the daunting prospect of facing end of life care. Before he gave up hope, however, his doctor gave him one more option. Mike took part in a radical trial, using the drug pembrolizumab – two years later and the 26 tumours that once covered his body have now virtually disappeared.

This is a particular case that is purpose built to raise hopes. On the edge of death, Mike was able to make a huge recovery and even walk down his daughter down the aisle, a feat that would have been unfeasible before the introduction of this groundbreaking drug.

Tests will continue, with the hope that these incredible results can be replicated on a larger scale.

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