“The impact of cancer often doesn’t end when treatment does. Everyone should be supported to live as well as possible for as long as possible after a cancer diagnosis” – Macmillan, ‘Living With and Beyond Cancer’ 2017
At Cancer Relief, we recognise that getting back to life as it was before your treatment can be difficult, if not sometimes impossible! A cancer diagnosis can affect any and all aspects of your life from the moment of diagnosis. It can mean that even after active treatment is over, cancer may still have an impact on your health, your relationships, and your social and personal life. This doesn’t mean, however, that your life must only be about your cancer experience?
Along with feelings of relief and happiness, the end of active treatment and a return to your normal day to day life may leave you feeling abandoned or cut off from the support networks that were put in place when you were diagnosed. You may not feel fully able to talk to your friends and family about how you are currently feeling. Those around you may not understand why you aren’t completely ‘back to normal’. You may just like to talk to someone who is feeling the same as you are, to help make sense of your next steps.
At Cancer Relief, we follow Macmillan’s belief that everyone should be supported to live as well as possible for as long as possible after a cancer diagnosis and follow their ethos that the impact of cancer can be managed if people have access to the right treatment, care and support.
We don’t want anyone to ever feel unsupported or unable to talk to someone. For this reason, Macmillan’s Living With and Beyond Cancer programme has become a scheme Cancer Relief aims to emulate for the local community. Living With and Beyond Cancer is specifically intended for that, often difficult time, when active treatment is finished and when the consequences of having cancer, and all that goes with it really starts to hit home. Some of the after effects people may experience include pain, fatigue, depression, mental health issues, intimacy difficulties or difficulties coming to terms with a changed body image. Macmillan states that six months after the end of their cancer treatment around 50% of people will have one or more unmet health needs. Many of these problems can persist for years and may often lead to personal and social relationship issues.
With these aims in mind, Cancer Relief has been offering anyone who has been affected by cancer the opportunity of joining one of our two Living With and Beyond Cancer groups. The first, aimed primarily at women, is a coffee morning held on Mondays from 11am. This purpose of this group is to bring together women of all ages who have been affected by cancer in some way. This could be anything from being a cancer survivor to being a carer to having suffered a bereavement due to cancer. The group meets weekly and, once a month, enjoys a new experience or event. These have included outings such as Monkey Talks’ Macaque educational evening, self-defence classes, Tai Chi demonstrations, and days out bowling or at coffee shops. There are some great plans for the future, including a beach day out , cooking demonstrations and health/well being classes.
The second group, aimed primarily at men, but with the same purpose of bringing together those affected by cancer, meets once a week on a Thursday from 11am. This group is newer than the Monday group but will soon be enjoying the same support and monthly events as the Monday group.
Both groups are held at the Cancer Relief Centre, with access, if required, to our nurses and referral on to other services if necessary. Cancer Relief also works closely with Breast Cancer Support Gibraltar and Prostate Cancer Support Gibraltar.
Cancer Relief hopes that by running these two groups, with the aim of helping you get back on your feet after a cancer experience, we can provide the support and encouragement required for everyone to live well with and beyond cancer.