More than two million people are living with or after cancer in the UK today, and this figure is steadily rising with over 300,000 new diagnoses each year. By 2020, almost half the population in the UK will be living with cancer
A diagnosis of cancer impacts every area of someone’s life and the questions and challenges it brings affect not only the person with cancer, but their family too. How am I going to tell my children? Am I going to be able to pay the mortgage if my wife can’t work? Why can’t daddy get up and play football anymore?
Here are 10 things that you can do if you’re affected by cancer put together by Lisa Punt and Maggie Fowler, Centre Head and Cancer Support Specialist at Maggie’s Wallace – a centre that provides practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their family and friends based within the grounds of Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
- Getting started with cancer treatment
The challenges you, your family and friends may face when first diagnosed with a cancer may feel overwhelming. An opportunity to meet with a member of your healthcare team and/or a cancer support specialist to talk through potential side effects, gaining more knowledge about cancer, becoming an active partner with your health care team and focusing on well-being during cancer treatment can help you to feel more in control.
- Eat well
Eating well during and after cancer treatment can make a real difference to the way you feel. Attending a nutritional workshop will help to introduce you to the foods that are particularly good for you- and show you tasty ways to introduce them to your diet
- Get Creative!
The concentration involved in making something helps us to slow down and gather our thoughts. The unconscious mind can express feelings through pictures, colours and shapes that we find difficult to put into words. Being creative is not reliant on skill or experience it is for everyone.
Relaxation can be a simple yet effective tool for transforming the emotional state of your mind. To help maintain health and well-being during or after treatment you can create a positive and relaxed emotional state using relaxation and visualisation techniques.
Come on you can do it! There is increasing evidence showing benefits of regular exercise including reducing the impact of treatment related side-effects and reducing the risk of the cancer returning in certain types of cancer. Gentle exercise can help with the weariness that so often accompanies Cancer and its treatments. It also has the ability to boost our sense of wellbeing and physical fitness. Why not try Yoga, Pilates, Tai chi or just a short walk.
Be it emotional, physical or financial we should not be afraid to ask for it. To seek out those who can help is a wise move. Maybe join a support group. A counsellor, Psychologist or Cancer Support Specialist could well be of great help. Support with issues of body image, which may well include hair loss needs to be addressed.
Talking to friends and family is important and can be so reassuring. At times however this can prove challenging. To deal with others emotional response on top of our own distress and changing emotions sometimes needs professional help.
- Seek support beyond treatment.
Undergoing treatment for cancer can be an intense time-during which many people will look forward to the last appointment and a point when life might finally ‘get back to normal’. However, in reality the end of treatment can leave people feeling uncertain and questioning Where now? Attending a course to help develop skills and techniques that will support you through this transition period and beyond can be a positive step in moving forwards. This programme will focus on exercise, nutrition and wellbeing. Improving these key areas will help you to increase your energy levels, decrease feelings of anxiety and distress and improve your ability to manage your life post-treatment.
- Talk to a benefits adviser
Living with cancer can have a real impact on your finances through lost income and increasing bills, such as heating and travel.
If you or someone you care for is living with cancer then a benefits adviser can help you complete forms and access additional support you may be entitled too such as parking permits.
Visit us, you talk we will listen. We will try and understand how it really is for you.
Your local Maggie’s Wallace centre is located within the grounds of Addenbrooke’s hospital and offers practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their families and friends, free of charge and with no referral required. The centre is warm and welcoming with professional staff on hand to help you find the support you need.
If you or anyone you know has been affected by cancer and would like to find out more about our programme of suppot then you can drop in to the centre Monday- Friday, 9am-5pm (no appointment needed), telephone 01223 249220 or email [email protected].