Maggie's Forth Valley 'still here' for cancer patients during coronavirus pandemic

Living with cancer can be a lonely and trying time for anyone.

By Jonathon Reilly
Monday, 4th May 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Monday, 4th May 2020, 4:52 pm

Doing so while the entire country remains in lockdown amid a pandemic will understandably pose patients, their family and friends even greater difficulties.

However, help is still very much at hand for those facing such circumstances — it’s just available in different ways.

Cancer support service Maggie’s was forced to temporarily shut its Forth Valley drop-in centre in line with the government’s coronavirus guidelines.

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Yvonne McIntosh (right), Maggie's Forth Valley centre head, alongside Cameron Shanks, who has raised more than £45,000 for the Larbert-based centre, and his wife Claire. Picture: Michael Gillen.

But the Larbert-based service has continued to support people living with cancer throughout the Covid-19 emergency via phone calls, emails and online video chats.

The charity has been making the most of every communication channel possible to provide its free practical and emotional assistance to those in need and its staff want the public to know they are there for them.

From setting up online ‘Living With Cancer’ and creative writing groups to taking calls from people seeking advice, Maggie’s Forth Valley is doing all it can to help as many as possible.

Though the doors of its centre in the grounds of Forth Valley Royal Hospital are closed, the charity will welcome contact from anyone in need with open arms.

Maggie’s Forth Valley centre head Yvonne McIntosh said: “We understand how the current situation increases stress and anxiety levels for people undergoing treatment, as well as family and friends, but we are here with them offering practical and emotional support to help them cope with the challenging times ahead.”

Since Maggie’s opened its first centre in 1996, the charity has developed a programme of support proven to help people with cancer and their loved ones take back control.

Being there to offer such people a helping hand is exactly why it was founded and it’s also why staff are encouraging anybody who wishes to have a chat or ask questions to get in touch during lockdown.

Yvonne continued: “I think some people aren’t calling because they feel all the services are busy.

“This is why we’re here — and we’re absolutely available to be contacted by phone or email.

“Nobody is being a burden. It’s okay to phone and be upset or frustrated, or to phone and tell us something funny that happened.

“We’re here to support. Don’t be sitting at home feeling there’s nobody there or people are too busy. Everybody has need and everyone is feeling isolated.

“I really want to encourage people to pick up the phone or drop us an email. If they need someone to talk things over or are looking for advice or want to ask questions, we’re here.

“The support is there and we’re not going anywhere.”

Offering financial advice forms an important part of the role Maggie’s can play in supporting someone living with cancer.

In Forth Valley, that information is provided by benefits adviser Tomb Lamb who can help people complete and process forms.

The range of services Maggie’s offers is only made possible by voluntary donations.

Members of the public have been quick to contribute towards an online JustGiving page, created to enable the organisation to carry on its crucial work amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yvonne added: “Thank you to everybody for supporting us during this time.

“People have been letting us know how they are and we’re managing to keep that sense of contact and community.

“We would love to hear from people until the time we can all meet together face to face.”

To find out more about Maggie’s Forth Valley, contact 01324 868069 or email [email protected]

Updates can also be found on the Maggie’s Forth Valley Facebook page.