Helping local cancer patients to find life’s new normal ...

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Living with cancer. It may not read much but these three little words will have the biggest impact on any individual’s life.

Many with the illness are looking for support in coping, surviving and adapting to the disease in all its forms.

Next week NHS Forth Valley and Macmillan Cancer Support are hosting one of their health and wellbeing events for everyone affected by cancer – those with cancer and survivors, as well as family and carers.

The session, which will be held at Falkirk Golf Club on Thursday, August 24, from 10.15am to 3pm, is open to those who have finished treatment, or are being monitored.

The event, which is held three times a year, features talks on relevant issues from healthcare professionals, and information stalls where those attending can find out about other sources of support.

Topics covered will include psychological wellbeing, managing tiredness, healthy lifestyle and getting the most out of your appointments. A question and answer session will also be held at the end.

Refreshments and lunch will be provided to offer attendees the opportunity, if they feel inclined, to talk about their experiences. This can be a great source of comfort when hearing from people in a similar situation.

Dr Susie Porteous, Macmillan consultant clinical psychologist for NHS Forth Valley, said: “We know from patients that cancer poses many challenges. When someone has been diagnosed with cancer they have to adjust to many changes and this means that patients and those close to them often experience strong emotions and worries. When treatment finishes and the practicalities of treatment are over, people can be surprised if they don’t feel ‘back to normal.’

“Similarly, people who are living with active cancer may be coping with physical problems and overwhelming emotions.

“The aim of the session is to help people living with and beyond cancer to make sense of their experience and to let them know about resources which are available to help them to manage any ongoing concerns.”

Sandra Campbell, a Macmillan nurse consultant for cancer and palliative care, explained there are many challenges living with the illness – people are living longer with conditions, and patients experience different side effects depending on their drugs and treatment.

“This is an opportunity to share information with people about how to improve their quality of life and optimise their potential by providing psychological support and give information to give them confidence to live with the illness.

“Some people are living with uncertainty and the biggest fear is of the cancer coming back and how to continue and get the best out of life.

“It is about helping find a new normal. They are walking a different path afterwards and need to get as much out of life as possible.”

The event will feature dietary advice, information on gentle exercise and the health promotion team from Strathcarron Hospice will be on hand with advice about lymphoedema, a chronic condition where the body swells, and is sometimes experienced by breast cancer patients.

Sandra, who is also the national clinical lead for palliative and end of life care, added the aim is to put attendees in contact the correct services.

Using a holistic needs approach, those living with cancer, or their family/carer, can be made aware of a number of local projects and initiatives.

These include Macmillan’s Money Matters team, which is working in partnership with Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire Councils and the Department of Work and Pensions to ensure people with the illness are receiving all the financial help they need.

Contact can be made with the Forth Valley Macmillan One to One Project, which provides support for patients, as well as the Maggie’s Centre Forth Valley and Lady J’s hairdressing salon in Grangemouth, which is running a wig service for cancer patients who have lost their hair through chemotherapy. There is a close working partnership with Enable Scotland, the charity for people with learning disabilities, as well as other cancer and dementia charities.

The Health and Wellbeing Event is open to all adults and the organisers would like to see more cancer patients take advantage of the event. In the past attendees have ranged from 21 years to people in their 80s.

Anyone interested in attending the Wellbeing Event should call the One to One Team at Airth Health Centre on 01324 832921 or by email on