Stevenage cancer support centre makes ‘big difference’ in first year
A CANCER support centre based in Stevenage has made a “big difference” following its opening a year ago.
The Macmillan Cancer Support’s Information and Support Centre at Lister Hospital has supported 1072 users since January 2010, providing free advice for patients, carers and relatives alike without the need for an appointment.
Kelly Wallace-Bates, manager of the centre, said: “People have the option to come in and take the information but often we’ve found people don’t just want that information, they want to talk through what they’re going through.
“Often patients have gone from having this huge influx of people wanting to know how they’re feeling and if they haven’t got family close by they then have nobody and that’s a massive area where health information falls down.
“They need someone to talk to who’s independent and we can provide that.
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“It’s been huge. I feel we’ve made a big difference in terms of being able to offer somebody somewhere to go where they need information on cancer.”
Run by Macmillan cancer nurse specialists alongside trained volunteers, initially the centre was open Monday to Friday between 12 and 2pm but hours were extended to 10.30am to 3.30pm in November after extra funding for another healthcare professional was provided.
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Approximately 42 per cent of users have had concerns about affording cancer care, with particular issues surrounding travelling costs to Mount Vernon Hospital in Middlesex for cancer treatment.
Since the centre began offering a financial advice service with the help of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau in April, it has helped save patients �212,000 in benefits which otherwise would have gone unclaimed.
Regarding the campaign by MP Stephen McPartland and The Comet for a radiotherapy unit to be based at Lister Hospital, Kelly added: “That would make a massive difference to the patients we deal with as travelling is a real concern.”
Due to the demands of the service, Macmillan are also running a ‘New Perspectives’ course for patients who have cancer. The weekly session over a six week period provides patients with the opportunity to share experiences, gain confidence and manage symptoms and stress.
For more information about the course or the centre, situated on the hospital’s main thoroughfare to the central lifts, contact Kelly on 01438 311758.