By Laura Kingston
Congratulations on the launch of Live Well with Cancer – what led you to set up the charity?
I’ve been supporting people and their families to get through a cancer diagnosis and beyond for more than two decades. The support out there from the NHS and other charities is great – everyone does their best – but I could still recognise unmet needs in the region.
The number of people living with cancer is increasing, with over 16,000 new cancers diagnosed in the North East each year. As the number of people surviving cancer increases, more people have significant unmet needs, particularly at the end of treatment.
For example, a lot of patients and their families struggle to open up to each other about their emotions surrounding the diagnosis and even their recovery. People try to protect those around them and it can lead to anxiety, low mood and sometimes depression.
In April 2019 I got a group of people together – who now make up the trustees of the charity – and all of who had been affected by cancer in some way. We came up with lots of ideas to provide support and importantly, to provide a safe environment where we break down any embarrassment or barriers that often stop people from asking for support.
What services will it offer people in the region?
A big part of Live Well with Cancer is building an accessible community for people affected by cancer to support each other so that no-one has to feel alone.
We aim to help people live life to the full – with and beyond a cancer diagnosis. Our focus is to empower people through self-help, mutual support and signposting to local services.