Cancer is Not Just About Being Strong
“No one should face cancer alone.” Written at the bottom of Macmillan Glasgow’s leaflets, this phrase became one of the main reasons behind the creation of the Macmillan drop-in service which now run every week day across Glasgow.
Strength comes up often in conversations about cancer; we see it in TV adverts, family chats, and friendly gatherings. To the point that it is almost to be expected that when facing cancer, being a fighter and staying strong for those around us is just how it should be.
However, a recent survey published by The Scotsman found that a “fighting attitude” could actually have a negative effect on the end of life experience for terminal cancer patients.
Almost two thirds of patients who took part in a Macmillan Cancer Support study, identified themselves as fighters. However one in four patients surveyed said they felt guilty if they could not stay positive about their disease. Even more worrying was that around a quarter of patients found it difficult to talk honestly about their feelings around cancer.
Macmillan services volunteer officer for north-west Glasgow, Stefanie McCartney, said: “We can give people a space to share how they are feeling, or help people find out more information about treatment or financial support. Pretty much anything that is affecting people with cancer.”
“Because I have been through it myself, I want to help others going through the same thing. I suppose it is a good thing to help others, even if it is just a little bit of help.”-Beverley Yuen-Trench
McCartney added that the drop-in services are located in local libraries as they are free and convenient for people come and visit. She said: “Maybe it’s just for a five minute break from the house. People can get good quality health information, without going on the internet to get some incorrect facts which could make them more worried.”
McCartney also added that the service is open to people who have been or are currently affected by cancer. She said: “It could be people feeling worried, or someone going through treatment at the time, or it could be possibly someone’s partner having treatment or being diagnosed. Even someone’s Mum or Dad who had cancer ten or twenty years ago. Everyone can be affected by cancer, and we can give them information, support, or put them in touch with other services. Or they can come and just talk with someone about how they are feeling.”
Beverley Yuen-Trench has been a volunteer in Macmillan drop-in service for five years. She chose to become volunteer because her uncle had died from prostate cancer, and she though it would also help her to understand people who are affected by cancer, or in a similar position to her own. She said: “Because I have been through it myself, I want to help others going through the same thing. I suppose it is a good thing to help others, even if it is just a little bit of help.”
The drop-in service is one Macmillan’s main services in the UK, and has over 16 residencies across Glasgow libraries, thus allowing people who are affected by cancer to come without an appointment and talk with volunteers.
McCartney continued: “Sometimes you don’t want talk to family or friends because you don’t want worry them anymore. It is good to talk with strangers, as sometimes you will tell a stranger more because you might not see them again. You can come to talk and give a false name. You don’t need to give any of your personal details as the service is confidential and private.
Eilidh Stewart is a graduate student who has been a Macmillan volunteer for two years. She said: “It’s nothing to be ashamed of if you need help or support. Nothing should ever stop you from coming. If you struggling, or you don’t know what you can do to help yourself, coming to somewhere like this can help you find out.”
The survey published by The Scotsman showed that is important to pay attention on end of life care and what the quality of care is. It also reveals how communication is important for people affected by cancer. The emotional support and suitable conversation service could relieve a little of the uncertainty facing patients, and answer some of their questions in an informal setting.