An innovative new service has been launched to support women with cancer through a partnership between two local charities.
Breast Friends and St Giles Hospice are working together to launch the service in early 2018, which will support woman dealing with the physical and psychological impact of cancer and the related treatments.
Funded by a £70,000 donation by Breast Friends, a Specialist Supportive Care Clinical Nurse will be based at St Giles’s Lindridge Road Centre in Sutton Coldfield with support available to women across the area, including Tamworth, Lichfield, Burton, Walsall and surrounding areas.
Jackie Benzecry, Chairman of Breast Friends, said the post had been created after 12 months of research into the type of support women need, with Breast Friends members as well as other cancer groups in the community.
“We spoke to our members at length about the impact that cancer and the associated treatments had on them and their responses were wide ranging,” she said.
“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.
“Plus these can be really difficult conversations to have and it can be hard for women and their partners to know where to go to get help.
‘The challenges people face are as unique as the people themselves so it can be difficult in a stretched healthcare system to find the right support.”
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.
St Giles Nursing Director Katie Taroni said cancer can impact on relationships and family life as everyone adjusts to living with cancer or after treatments are completed.
“Relationships can become disconnected due to issues around intimacy, passion and anxiety about what the future holds,” she said.
“Living with cancer and the effects of the treatment can cause massive changes in a woman’s life and those closest to them.
“I’m 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.”
Two experienced nurses will share the post, which will begin in February 2018 at the Supportive Care Centre on Lindridge Road, which St Giles shares with the Cancer Support Centre.