Cancer group promotes support for Derriford patients

A new group, with the aim of supporting patients and their families who have bowel cancer, visited the Trust to help raise awareness of the disease.

Last week the Plymouth & District Bowel Cancer Support Group, formed by Keith Anderson and Wendy Wilson, had an information stand at the hospital main entrance and, along with Trust staff, showcased how they offer support to patients and their loved ones.

“It’s great to be able to raise awareness around Bowel Cancer,” said Wendy. “Of course there is a stigma around it being the most embarrassing of cancers, so people don’t like to talk about it, which is one of the reasons why we started up the support group for the Plymouth and district areas. Being in a very busy area of the hospital allows us to have a bigger audience to help support those who might be in need of our help.”

The group was founded to help patients and their loved ones, who are worried about the disease, and the consequences of bowel cancer treatment. “We want to raise an awareness for the public, but mainly to support those who need someone to talk to; to talk about their feelings or even to moan to.

“We have a private, secure Facebook group where questions can be asked and where people can vent a little – many emotions go through people’s minds when they are going through this disease. We are a group of people that really understand and we have regular meetings for everyone to chat, have coffee, and for people to be told they are not alone.”

Maria Lawson, Colorectal Oncology Nurse at Derriford Hospital, said: “It’s great to have the support group here and visible in the concourse to not only promote themselves and what they offer, but also to promote awareness of the disease too. They are a new group, formed only a few months ago, but already they have generated a good following thanks to the enthusiasm and dedication of Keith and Wendy.

Main group in the foyer Their knowledge and personal experience enables them to support fellow patients and their families who are going through similar experiences to what they have already encountered. The colorectal team work in partnership with the support group and we try to encourage patients as much as possible to utilise the support and experience that Wendy and Keith can offer. We know it will be of real benefit to them.”

As part of the knowledge and expertise that the group offers, Keith was also a recipient of an award by the Trust. “He recently met with Ann James, our Chief Executive, and Richard Crompton, our Chairman, to discuss the national cancer patient survey. While he was here, he was presented with a certificate of excellence for his outstanding contribution to supporting bowel cancer patients,” noted Maria.

And, after speaking to many patients and interested families throughout the day, Wendy admitted, “If we have helped just one person by giving them advice about the screening kit for testing for the disease, or educating them about the symptoms, then it’s totally worth for us being here for the whole day.”

Further information and contact details for the Plymouth & District Bowel Cancer Support Group can be found by visiting https://www.plymouthhospitals.nhs.uk/mt-support-groups