Help’s becoming more personal

Public health minister Michael Matheson meets volunteers at launch of new breast cancer services
Public health minister Michael Matheson meets volunteers at launch of new breast cancer services

Three new services to help people diagnosed with breast cancer were launched in Forth Valley this week.

From now on, residents dealing with breast cancer – including incurable secondary breast cancer –will have access to support from those who know the condition best.

Consultants, nurses, cancer patients and those who have overcome the disease, the most common form of cancer, will link up to offer peer-to-peer support, health and wellbeing advice, and emotional comfort.

The expansion of services for those dealing with breast cancer has been welcomed by politicians, support staff, patients and volunteers.

Falkirk MSP Michael Matheson, minister for public health, launched the new services at Forth Valley Royal Hospital on Monday.

He said: “These services will make a real difference both to patients and their families.

“The most valuable thing is the number of volunteers who have experienced breast cancer themselves, and who better to help people through their treatment and answer their questions?

“This service is extremely important especially as more and more women are living with secondary breast cancer.”

The three new services are being provided by Breast Cancer Care in partnership with NHS Forth Valley.

Each has been designed to offer support and information to those recently diagnosed; people moving forward after treatment; and those living with secondary breast cancer.

‘Moving Forward’ is a four-week course open to people who are finishing treatment.

It answers unanswered questions, allows people in a similar position to meet and chat, and looks at future health and wellbeing.

For those who have been through the journey, this timely support is vital.

Nicky Laing, who attended an Edinburgh course said: “Moving Forward was really helpful. You have been through most of your treatment and it helps with all the things you need to get your life back.

“It also helped with the emotional impact which is a huge thing, and it’s really helped our group do things they would have never done before and enjoy life.”

The Living with Secondary Breast Cancer group, which started yesterday (Wednesday) at the Park Hotel, will meet regularly for face-to-face sessions.

Nic White, head of Breast Cancer Care Scotland said: “It’s wonderful to launch a partnership with NHS Forth Valley to help ensure that women throughout the area are accessing valuable support.

“Our primary and secondary support services allow people to meet and speak to others who have also had breast cancer and understand how they may be feeling, which can be a great source of information and support.”

The final service, Someone Like Me, is a telephone-based support line.

The clever system matches people with a volunteer who has been through or is going through a similar experience.

Sandra Campbell, Macmillan Nurse consultant for cancer and palliative care with NHS Forth Valley, said: “Services like these are absolutely needed for people going through cancer.

“They are very important and I think will make a real difference.”

Anyone interested in the Living with Secondary Breast Cancer group can contact 0345 077 1893.