Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Cancer - how you can help?

friendship, support, cancer, illness
Be there for your loved ones
Photo by Dương Hữu on Unsplash
According to Cancer Research UK, one in two people in the UK will get cancer in their lifetime. Thankfully half of those diagnosed with cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for ten years or more, and survival from cancer is improving, with UK figures doubling in the last 40 years. This year, international Cancer Survivors Day falls on June 2nd. The awareness event is designed to be a celebration for those who have survived, offer hope for those recently diagnosed and highlight support. But what can you do to help a loved one with a diagnosis?

Be informed

Cancer is a condition where cells in a specific part of the body grow and reproduce uncontrollably. The cancerous cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue, including organs. Cancer sometimes begins in one part of the body before spreading to other areas. This process is known as metastasis. In the UK, the four most common types of cancer are breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and bowel cancer. However, there are more than two hundred different types of cancer, and each is diagnosed and treated in a particular way. 

If you want to help and support someone that has had a cancer diagnosis, it's important to understand that there are no set rules, and that you must take your lead from the patient. It's wise to learn as much as you can about the cancer and treatment in question - try pages provided by the NHS.

Be thoughtful

It's also worth remembering that your friend or family member may not want to answer questions or talk about the issue, it may be physically or emotionally draining. You need to ask permission before you visit, ask questions or give advice. If you have plans together, remember to remain flexible and take your lead from them as to how much they want to do, and when. Let them know help is there if and when they need it - and allow them to laugh or cry as and when they want. 


cancer, cancer gifts, breast, friendship
Well thought out gifts will show you care
If you don't live close by - and you can't always be there, or even if you'd just like to let them know you care, you could send a well-thought out gift. Typically those undergoing treatment have to endure a great deal of physical discomfort. Common side effects from cancer treatment are radiation burns, nausea, achy body parts and a dry mouth, lips and skin. Presents that will provide some relief from this include soft and cosy blankets, pillows, PJs and warm socks. Other relief may come from eye masks, ginger biscuits, a funky water bottle, moisturisers and body lotions and lip balm. 

There's also a lot of waiting around in hospitals, so anything to stave off the boredom would be appreciated too - think books and magazines, word and sudoko puzzles, sophisticated colouring sets, headphones for a tablet or other electronic device, an iTunes voucher, or even just a list of well-chosen podcasts.

You might want to send a pre-packed gift that includes a collection of useful and well-chosen items, that can be delivered direct. The Cancer Care Parcel company was set up by Dr Shara Cohen after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, so she understand what each hamper should contain. The gifts the company offers can be tailored to suit adults or children, and for those that have been newly diagnosed or those that are undergoing radiotherapy or chemo. The company also have pre-packed gifts designed to help those with breast, lung or prostate cancer. 

Be a fundraiser

Running, charity race, fundraising, active
Get your trainers on!
Photo by Matthew LeJune on Unsplash
Another great way to show you care is by taking on a fundraising challenge - either alone or with a groups of friends. Research into cancer and how to treat it, will make a long term difference to the fight against the disease. 

Macmillan Cancer Support provides physical, financial and emotional  help for those with a cancer diagnosis. Its website has a large section on how to help the charity continue to reach its goals. You could fundraise by joining a sporty event such as a hike, a swim, a cycle ride, a run or a golf tournament . If you'd rather work up a sweat in the kitchen set up a Macmillan coffee morning to raise money. You might even want to 'brave the shave'! 







Please note: Post written in collaboration with Cancer Care Parcel, I received a sample care parcel to review.

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