AS we slowly and safely return to the new normal after the restrictions of the pandemic, many people are looking forward to seeing each other face-to-face and reconnecting over a cuppa.
We know people who have been shielding have desperately missed that simple human contact we took for granted before Covid hit.
We mustn’t overlook that many people may be feeling anxious about the lifting of restrictions, particularly people receiving cancer treatment.
I have been struck by the ways that our Macmillan professionals across Rotherham have continued to offer support to people living with cancer throughout the pandemic.
Chelsea Grayshon is the Macmillan Cancer Support worker with the urology team at Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust. Pre-Covid she supported a monthly prostate cancer support group; these meetings offered a lifeline to people living with cancer, they found it easier to open up to peers who shared and understood the anxieties and challenges of life living with cancer.
The support group meetings, which took place at Rotherham Hospital, were quickly stopped in March 2020 to ensure the safety of all involved, leaving a gap in the support needs of these patients. Chelsea acted quickly at the start of the pandemic to continue the meetings, and she explains: “When Covid struck our priority was keeping people safe and we had no choice but to stop our face to face support meetings, however I knew this left a gap in the support our patients needed.
“Working with the hospital I moved quickly to set up a virtual alternative to the support group, it started in April 2020 and is still running monthly. We have faced challenges with internet issues and we know online is not ideal for everyone but we are proud that we were able to offer our patients ongoing support throughout the pandemic.
“The group sessions are so important, it’s an opportunity for the men to be completely open with each other, they feel confident to talk about anything, sometimes this is easier away from family and friends.
“With Macmillan’s support we hope to return to face to face meetings later in the year. As interest in the support group has grown, we will resume these meetings in a new venue, Whiston Parish Hall, a short distance from the hospital.”
Macmillan recently supported the group with a grant of £450 to pay for the venue, refreshments and any equipment they might need. Chelsea and colleague Suzanne, urology clinical nurse specialist, are looking to set up a second support group for men with metastatic prostate cancer.
Chelsea says: “Without the Macmillan funding there’s no doubt we’d have to scale back on our ambitions for the group, we know this type of support is invaluable to our patients and we’re delighted that Macmillan is supporting the group to continue and expand.”
In the past year Macmillan have awarded over £4,000 in support grants across Yorkshire, we want to be there for every person diagnosed with cancer in Rotherham.
However, the pandemic has had a devastating impact on our income, we anticipate a loss of around a third of our fundraising revenue this year. Last year alone we lost £1 million in Yorkshire because of the pandemic, and for this reason we launched our Yorkshire Appeal and every donation received will stay in the region and give vital support to those who need it.
You can support Macmillan’s Yorkshire Appeal by visiting our Just Giving page; https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/yorkshireappeal
Anyone diagnosed with cancer can contact the Macmillan Support Line seven days a week on 0808 808 00 00 or visit the Macmillan website (www.macmillan.org.uk)