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Cancer Champions wanted to offer support and information

3rd December 2019 | By Liz Mattock | Posted in

Health organisations in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are looking for people to help others find out more about cancer.

The NHS, Macmillan and Cancer Research UK are creating a new network of Cancer Champions who will support people in their community to find out more about how to prevent cancer, tests that can help spot cancers at an early stage and services for people who are affected by cancer.

Julie Farmer, who was treated for breast cancer, said: “Looking back to when I had just finished my treatment, what I really needed was somebody to help me take that step back into ordinary life, who had the time to really listen and get to know me. During treatment I’d been told what to do, what to eat and where to go and then when it was all over I felt a bit lost. Everyday things like going back to work, doing the shopping – it might sound strange but that was where I needed support, so that I could get back into my usual routine. I want to be a Cancer Champion so that I can use my experience to help other people who are going through something similar.”

Dr Paul Danaher, Leicester GP and clinical lead for cancer at Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It is important that we find new ways of keeping people informed about cancer. Every year, more people are being diagnosed with cancer, but more people are surviving too. Over half of patients will now live ten years or more after their diagnosis.

“We want people living with and beyond cancer to have the information and support they need to have the best possible quality of life. There is plenty of support available but often it’s just a matter of knowing where to find it. We also want to help prevent as many people as we can from getting cancer in the first place and make sure that more patients are diagnosed early, when it’s easier to treat. But not everyone takes up the opportunity to have screening carried out when they’re invited, and people don’t always seek medical advice for symptoms that might be signs of cancer.

“We are already making improvements in our cancer health services, but sometimes the most effective way of getting information across to people is through their own networks, people that they see in their daily lives. This is where our Cancer Champions will be able to help.”

Being a Cancer Champion is a voluntary role and people do not need to have any previous medical knowledge. They will be offered basic training from professionals so that they can support people in their neighbourhood. The aim is to create a network of people who have good knowledge about cancer and local services including voluntary groups, charities and support based in hospitals, GP surgeries and online.

A Cancer Champion’s role will include helping to spread messages in their neighbourhood or workplace about cancer prevention, making people more aware of signs and symptoms of cancer and encouraging people to take up screening opportunities such as bowel, breast or cervical screening.

Cancer Champions are also being recruited from GP practices, including healthcare assistants and non-clinical staff such as receptionists, so that they can help patients improve their knowledge about cancer or make changes within the practice that will benefit patients.

Dr Danaher added: “We’re looking for people who are passionate about helping others to get the right information and support at the right time. We think that being a Cancer Champion would be excellent experience for someone who’s interested in working in health or social care, and it would also suit someone whose life has been affected by cancer in some way – whether that’s through a friend or relative, or perhaps if they’ve been treated for cancer themselves in the past. It’s an opportunity to really make a difference to people’s lives.”

Anyone who is interested in the Cancer Champions project should contact Julian Wing at Leicester City CCG Julian.wing@leicestercityccg.nhs.uk or Chirag Ruda at Cancer Research UK  Chirag.Ruda@cancer.org.uk.

Further details are also available online

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