A new service to support women with the adverse effects of cancer and its treatment launched last week.

Doctors, nurses and Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell joined teams from St Giles Hospice and Breast Friends at a launch event at St Giles Sutton Coldfield on Friday February 2nd.

The two charities have worked together to launch the service which is there to support women dealing with the physical and psychological impact of cancer and the related treatments.

Guests at the launch heard firsthand the impact that cancer can have on women’s body image, self-esteem, sexuality and relationships.

St Giles Nursing Director Katie Taroni said the clinic, which is based at the St Giles Lindridge Road centre, is available to all women who need emotional and physical support.

“The clinic is there to provide a place where women can talk in confidence about issues affecting them and to be supported in a relaxed environment,” she said.

“At the launch we heard some powerful stories of women who needed support and felt it was missing so I am really pleased we have been able to work with Breast Friends to develop the service and to open the unit at Lindridge Road.

“Our nurses will support women and their partners through the effects of cancer management through surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and ongoing treatment.

“This project is about supporting people in living well with and after cancer and we are proud to be part of such an innovative programme, which has been developed based on research and feedback from people living with the impact cancer can have before, during and after treatment.”

“We will be carrying out evaluation throughout the next twelve months to ensure we are delivering the right support at the right time and working with patients, those closest to them, medical and nursing professionals to see how we can grow and develop it.”

The service was funded by a £70,000 donation by Breast Friends, almost half of which was raised by Boldmere Bullets as part of Breast Friends 20th anniversary fundraising.

Jackie Benzecry, Chairman of Breast Friends, said she was delighted that the money raised was going to such an innovative service.

“We believe there is a real need for this service to support and signpost women to help them live a full life with or after cancer and we are delighted to be working with St Giles to make it happen for people in our local area,” she said.

“It was wonderful to welcome so many people to the launch, many who have supported the fundraising and a wide range of healthcare professional who can refer to the service.

“We’d encourage any woman who needs support to get in touch to find out how the nurses can help.”

Through research carried out with different groups including Breast Friends, the St Giles team discovered that for many women body changing surgery, hair loss and changes in their overall body image, had left them with low self-esteem and self-worth.

Other women said a combination of chemotherapy, surgery and other invasive treatments had had an impact on their sexuality, sexual feelings and overall psychological wellbeing.

The service is available to women living with the effects of any cancer and the impact of its treatments, within the catchment area of St Giles and Breast Friends (Sutton Coldfield, Erdington, Kingstanding, Castle Vale, Great Barr, Lichfield, Tamworth, Walsall, Cannock, Rugeley and Burton).

Self-referrals can be made by calling one of the nurses on 0300 330 1297 (calls charged at a local rate). A member of the team will be available from 9.30am to 4.30pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

A referral can be made by any healthcare professional in the area via a referral form to St Giles.