People affected by cancer met at Harrogate Convention Centre earlier this month to share experiences and access a ‘toolkit’ of information at a free event organised by Yorkshire Cancer Research.
‘Life with Cancer 2017’ was the first event of its kind organised by the charity, which is dedicated to improving outcomes for patients living in the region.
There are currently about 195,000 people in Yorkshire living with or beyond a cancer diagnosis, and this number is expected to reach as many as 300,000 people by 20301.
With the number of people surviving cancer continuing to rise, the emotional, physical and practical needs of those affected by the disease have become increasingly important.
Cancer patients, their carers and family and friends received expert advice from researchers and healthcare professionals. They also had the opportunity to share experiences, learn from others and take part in practical sessions to help improve physical and mental wellbeing.
The event included a welcome address from ITV Calendar presenter and journalist Christine Talbot, who spoke about her experience after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012.
It was a huge honour to share my personal story and to be part of this event which reaches out to all those affected by cancer and offers a support network and information to help patients and carers deal with the illness.
Among those attending the event was Harrogate author Jackie Buxton, who has written a book, Tea & Chemo, about her experience with breast cancer. Jackie was one of many exhibitors at the event.
I was honoured to be part of Life with Cancer. It was superbly well organised and packed full of delegates rushing from workshop to presentation to the exhibition stands for a wealth of information and products to help everyone whose lives have been touched by cancer. The place was buzzing and I hope this will be the first of many annual events for those tackling life with and beyond a cancer diagnosis.
Another attendee was Dr Barbara Hibbert, a history education consultant from Harrogate, who is currently undergoing treatment for terminal bowel cancer.
The Life with Cancer day was a fantastic opportunity for patients, carers and anyone else affected by cancer to meet each other, listen to experts on issues from coping with side effects to organising finances, and even try out some exercise programmes from the Leeds Rhinos.
I was impressed by everything – from the ‘goody bag’ which included a pedometer to encourage attendees to keep up with an exercise programme, to the carefully chosen speakers, to the various stalls to visit.
I have been fasting before my chemotherapy sessions, and it was good to hear experts talking about this. There were opportunities to find out about the latest research and how treatment will become more personalised in the future and simple pleasures such as receiving a taster reflexology session from one of the therapists from the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre in Harrogate.
A representative from Use My Data explained how patient information can be used to improve treatment in the future and the safeguards there will be surrounding this. Overall I felt enlivened and refreshed by the day and look forward to Yorkshire Cancer Research organising another such event in the future.
Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said:
This was the first event of its kind for the charity and demonstrated that cancer patients and their families can benefit from coming together with experts to help them avoid survive and cope with cancer.
Being diagnosed with cancer is one of the hardest things a person will ever have to deal with. From coming to terms with the initial shock of being told you have cancer, to making decisions about treatment and dealing with side effects, it’s an experience that will forever change a person’s life.
Beyond the immediate medical care, there are so many other issues that come along with a cancer diagnosis. We want to provide people in Yorkshire with the very best information and advice so they feel better supported and go on to live long and healthy lives.
In 2015, Yorkshire Cancer Research announced a new 10-year strategy to save 2,000 more lives in Yorkshire every year by 2025. As well as funding innovative research projects in the county, the charity is dedicated to working in local communities to encourage healthy lifestyles, improve knowledge of cancer signs and symptoms and increase participation in the national screening programmes for bowel, breast and cervical cancer.