In September 2019 I went along to a Macmillan coffee morning to help raise funds – I knew a bit about what they did, but not in much detail.
A year on and my perspective is completely different. I was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and now I really appreciate what Macmillan does. When I heard that Escape was raising money for the charity with their Walk to Blackpool, I wanted to tell my story to share what amazing work Macmillan does for people who are living with cancer.
I presume it’s the same for everyone who gets called into the Oncologist Consultant’s office – from that first meeting, there’s a Macmillan nurse who’s a specialist in the type of cancer you have by your side. Afterwards they will take as much time as you need, going through what’s been discussed and answering any questions you’ve got. ‘It’s going to be a bumpy ride,’ she said, ‘with surgery and treatment, but we will walk by your side all the way.’ I still tear up when I remember this, as I’ve found it to be completely true. They don’t want anyone to be feel alone because they’ve got cancer.
I didn’t really understand it at the time, I suppose there was a lot to take in, but I was given a booklet with information about a helpline in it straight away and it’s turned out to be something I have used time and time again.
The helpline is there for cancer patients as well as their family, as cancer can affect everyone. It's there for your moral support; if you’re feeling overwhelmed you can just ring for a chat and some perspective (it’s natural to be scared and overwhelmed when you’re facing cancer and a long time off work). They can also give you medical advice and go over anything you’ve been told that you’re not sure of. Although they don’t access your notes, they are experts. As well as making sure that no one’s facing cancer alone, they want to make sure that no one is disadvantaged by it either. You can get advice on your finances and benefits – I’ve now got a parking badge for three years, thanks to their help. I get tired so easily and this will make life a lot easier while my recovery continues. I also know that if I were to have any problems with, for example, health insurance, Macmillan’s legal team would be behind me all the way.
And for me, being alone has been particularly important because I came out of hospital after my surgery on lockdown day. So the friend I had asked to come over and help me out, as well as everyone else who had been keen to drop by and help me, or keep me company, couldn’t come over any more. I’ve also missed out on the usual support groups I would normally be able to go to. So the helpline was really important to me and I have even arranged a weekly ‘buddy’ call to look forward to, from a volunteer who rings just to chat to me.
Macmillan’s care has been absolutely outstanding – they’ve been true to their promise to stick by me and when my treatment finishes, I’ll be able to access help from Maggie’s.
The funds raised by the coffee mornings helps Macmillan to maintain their amazing support service to people affected by cancer and this year they are likely to get far fewer donations because of the restrictions that are still in place. I wanted to make sure that people understand just how much of a difference Macmillan have made to me, so please, if you can, organise a coffee morning, or take a look at Escape’s challenge and support them in any way possible.
Thank you, Mary.