Community News Blog

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Community News Blog

This is where you can find out about all the amazing things going on in the Online Community. It's where you'll find news about events and awareness months; ways to get involved with Macmillan and up-to-date campaigning news from Macmillan HQ.

Latest Entries
  • Cancer and your sex life

    Couple at cafe

    Have you seen the Macmillan research that’s been in the news this week about cancer and sex

    A survey of women who’ve had breast cancer showed that a third of all women, and half of those under 55, have sex less often as a result of their cancer. 

    And this isn’t a problem restricted only to those with breast cancer, or to women. Sexual difficulties are one of the most common long-term consequences of cancer, affecting around 35,000 people in the UK. 

    Gietta Gudge, 48, a breast cancer patient from Northamptonshire, says: “Breast cancer left my sex life in tatters. I used to have sex with my husband every day, but after cancer, I was sore from the operation and my treatment caused menopausal symptoms that made sex painful.

    “Radiotherapy burned my skin which added to the problem and chemotherapy made me feel so sick and tired that sex was the last thing on my mind.” 

    Cancer can have a huge impact, both physically and emotionally, so it’s not surprising that this can affect people’s sex lives. However, many people find sex a difficult topic to talk about, so they might not be getting the help and support that they need. 

    Jennifer’s top tips 

    Jennifer Gorrie, a Macmillan cancer information nurse has these tips: 

    -       Try wearing a soft camisole top, bra, or other clothing to bed to boost your confidence if you are self-conscious about a mastectomy or scarring

    -       You can be intimate with your partner without having sex. Hold hands, kiss, hug and talk to each other

    -       If fatigue is an issue, it might help to have sex in the morning when you are feeling more energetic after a night’s sleep

    -       If arousal is difficult, get your partner to focus on other sensitive areas like your neck, your bum and inner thighs

    -       Experiment with which positions are most comfortable for you. For example, you may find it easier to have sex side by side, or change who is on top

    -       Talk to your partner about how the cancer has made you feel and how it has affected your sex life

    -       Talk to your GP or call the free Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00. 

    Whether you are male or female, have a partner or are single, and whatever your sexual orientation, cancer doesn’t have to mean the end of your sex life. Read more tips and information about cancer and sexuality or order our free booklet.

  • Get active, feel good: guest bloggers wanted to trial our new DVD

    Running shoe

    This summer, Macmillan will be releasing a new exercise DVD in partnership with Boots, and we’re looking for guest bloggers to test them out for us and let the Community know what they think.

    We’re working with Boots to spread the word that physical activity can be great for people living with cancer. It’s not about spending hours in the gym, but keeping active at an appropriate level during and after cancer treatment can boost energy and help to reduce the impact of side effects. 

    Get Active, Feel Good is specifically developed for people living with or after cancer. There are two to three different levels for each activity, so you can find a level to suit you. The activities are set to music and led by cancer fitness expert Dr Anna Campbell.

    It will be available for free in store, from Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacists who have undergone training about physical activity and cancer, or online from Be.Macmillan.org.uk.

    Testers wanted 

    We’re looking for Online Community members willing to try out a sneak preview of the DVDs before they are released, and then write a blog post to let us know how you found it.

    Ideally, you’ll be someone who isn’t very active at the moment, and you’d be willing to try out the DVD for four weeks. After that, you’d just need to email me the text of your blog and I’d publish it as a guest blog right here on the Community News Blog.

    If you’re interested in taking part, please email me on community@macmillan.org.uk, with a few details about where you are on your cancer journey.

    Stay safe

    Before you start using the DVD, please read the safety booklet that comes with it, and check with your doctor, nurse or physiotherapist if you are unsure what activities are safe for you.

  • Web chat transcript: Bengu Shail.

    Hello everyone,

    Thanks to those of you who managed to make it along last Wednesday to the web chat we hosted with Bengu Shail.

    Bengu spent an hour answering your questions on returning to work after a cancer diagnosis and also answered some questions which we received via email following the live chat.

    For those of you who were unable to make it on Wednesday, I've created a transcript which you can read below. You may also find the following link useful:

    http://www.macmillan.org.uk/GetInvolved/Campaigns/WorkingThroughCancer/SupportForEmployees.aspx

    Our next web chat is in the New Year and will be with a very special guest, so stay tuned!

    Thanks.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I’ve been writing on CV’s that I have had cancer to explain the gap in my employment. Should I do this? Or leave it out?

    My view is 'why should I hide it?' People either accept you as someone who's had cancer or they don't. If you have problems down the line then they'll need to know about it anyway, so why hide it in the first place? Perhaps though, leave that information for the interview? I've asked myself the same question! My view is that if they don't want to employ me because I've had cancer then I probably don't want to work for them. It's illegal to discriminate based on health records. My view is that, if you've provided evidence that you're fit for the job and your Dr can back that up then there should be no reason why you shouldn't be employable. It's important to reiterate this in interview - keep telling them that you *are* fit for the job

    I understand that the disability discrimination act covers you from the point of diagnosis, but I had to give up a course of study 3 weeks before diagnosis (after 3 months of missed diagnosis) do I have any recourse?

    I'd love to be able to help you on this, but I'm not an expert in employment law. I recommend you call the 0808 808 0000 number to speak to a specialist at Macmillan who will be able to advise if you have any recourse.

    So if they ask 'how are you' I should reply the usual 'fine thanks' before the interview?

    Are you ready to go back to work? Either way you need the support of your Dr.
    Either to say that you're fit to work, or you're not fit enough. I had the benefits worry myself; fortunately I was supported by my Dr.

    I am at the stage that I want to start to get into work again - a new job - as I have to start again - I am currently on ESA - but am severely compromised as to confidence and energy levels etc Are there any other agencies that can support me in returning to work so I can do things at my own pace?

    It's a difficult question, would it be an option to look for something short-term to bridge the gap and keep applying for others? I'm in a different situation since I was working 60-70 hour weeks and I know I can't go back to that. Are there elements of your old job that you can pick up and do part time? Or perhaps side-step and work for a different line manager since your old one wasn't very supportive?
    Often volunteering allows you the opportunity to get your confidence back and develop new skills. You can then apply for jobs within the organisation you're volunteering in. If you're on disability benefits, then my understanding is that even if you're volunteering you're still entitled to those - so do check that before flagging yourself up at the job centre

    When at work, do I need to tell to other colleagues? They will have to provide cover for me when I'm at hospital appointments etc. My problem is that some people are 'skeptical' about my appointments

    I think that if you have appointments then it's only fair to give as much notice as possible. Obviously you don't have to tell anyone the details, that's your business and it's different for everyone. You may find in the long-term that it's easier to explain to the people who need to know that you will be attending appointments for cancer treatment, just so they know where you are and they can plan their workloads.

    Is it better to let your colleagues know you have cancer to save awkward questions when you go back?

    Everyone is different. Some people are very private and don’t want to draw attention or talk about it. Personally, I’d rather people got the facts from me direct (not from gossiping). It gets their questions out of the way, rather than having to watch them dancing around the houses being awkward, avoiding contact and thus, making me feel awkward (and paranoid).   I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way. Do what you feels right for you. Don’t let anyone make you feel pressured to deal with it in a way you aren’t comfortable. If you don’t want to involve people, don’t. After what you’ve been through, it’s totally your prerogative isn’t it?

    I work in a big company with a "performance culture" where employees are measured yearly and compared against peers. I have short term memory problems and the nature of my business is always learning new deeply technical things. Consequently 2 years after treatment I'm still significantly underperforming. They are not measuring me at the moment because of my treatment, but at some time I expect I'll be back in the pool with all the rest. The thing I've been trying to get my head round is whether it constitutes "reasonable adjustments" to expect them to measure me against my juniors into the future, rather than against those who were my peers before all this happened.

    How are you managing the short-term memory loss at the moment? Perhaps finding some coping mechanisms and ways to manage the problems will help. Myself, I'm dyslexic and I tend to be meticulous about writing post-its, keeping my diary up to date, writing to-do lists etc as this helps me manage the issue.

    Yes I have some coping strategies, e.g. dictaphone etc. The thing I haven't managed to do is find a way of keeping track of learning something new and complex. I can do it, but I'm so much slower than I used to be because my brain is such a leaky bucket.

    Always speak to your manager to find out what the policy is. And I'd definitely recommend sitting down and getting some advice externally. A union for example, could help or Citizen's Advice may be able to advise. Obviously it's going to take you a while to get back to pre-diagnosis state, but it's a work in progress. I can only recommend speaking to your manager and explaining the problems you're having, the measures you're taking to help and agree a plan to move forward that you're both comfortable with

    Is it easy to return to work after cancer, as lots of people seem to think that once your in remission, you are just the same as you are before you had treatment?

    For me to return to what I was doing before would have been impossible because my body simply can't do the things it used to do. I've had a lot of damage to my bones from steroid use and I also experience a lot of fatigue. I've had to be really honest with myself about what I can and can't do. Also, when you have cancer it really knocks your confidence, especially when you're isolated from your normal working environment.
    For me, volunteering in the short term was the best option. It gives me the opportunity to test my body and see what I can and can't do in a supportive environment that understands, so it gives you a chance to develop your confidence and gain skills and bring you back into a normal working environment.

    Bengu are you working now? What type of work are you finding helps you best?

    I'm volunteering now as I still have a year of treatment left. It's a great opportunity to ensure that I’m still out there and my brain is working and I'm using my skills. At the minute I'm volunteering in Macmillan's communication team and am helping to make a video which campaigns for 24 hour nursing for cancer patients at the end of their life. As I used to work in TV this project is really up my street and it gives me the opportunity to also use my experience as a cancer patient to really make sure that Macmillan are addressing the right issues. And I'm loving it!
    Ultimately my plan is to apply for a job either here at Macmillan or at another cancer charity and change my career altogether. At the moment my body cannot cope with a full time job and I need to be practical about what I can and can't do

    I feel unsure where to start - and feeling so vulnerable - and uncertain of my own capabilities, what do you advise?

    When you go back to work you have to be really clear about what you want, because once you've had cancer you realise that life's too short to waste on something that doesn't make you feel good.

    How has your cancer diagnosis changed your working life and have your priories changed?

    I think before I got ill it was all about my career and to be honest I worked myself into the ground. Because in my industry (television) to be seen as somebody with problems was a cardinal sin so basically I ignored all my health problems and almost ended up killing myself for my job. When I got cancer it made me sit up and have a really hard look at myself and my life and what my priorities were, and basically I had a choice; I either choose to have an exciting career which works me into the ground, or I can choose to have a life. And I chose life.

    Like you, I want something to do with a cancer charity, as being a member here for a year has opened my eyes lots, as well as going through cancer myself. I like helping people. How did you know what you wanted to do, and how did you get into it?

    Have you thought about retraining? Now is probably the only time you'll have the time to do that? There are lots of things you can do here at Macmillan. Have a look into volunteering; we've got volunteers in anything from fundraising to human resources to supporter services. You could even help in a local help centre if there's one nearby? It might be a good way to dip your toe in and see if it's something you really want to do without formally committing to a training course or anything like that.
    Have a look here http://www.macmillan.org.uk/GetInvolved/Volunteer/Volunteering.aspx or you could also consider becoming a cancer voice.

    What do cancer voices do?

    Cancer voices get involved in campaigns and help us shape our services, future cancer policy and get involved in press campaigns

    Do you think your employer understood how to deal with you cancer diagnosis?

    I was a freelancer and three days into my new job when I was diagnosed so my contract terminated as soon as I was admitted into hospital. My employers were obviously very concerned and sympathetic when I told them and sent me a lovely get well card while I was in hospital. To be fair, they only knew me for three days. That’s all I got and I didn’t expect anything else.

    Could your employer could have helped you more?

    Yes, I do think some my previous employers could have been a little more helpful in terms of giving me a job with fewer and more flexible hours. As freelancer, I was in a difficult place to begin with because nobody was obliged or legally contracted to ‘care’.  I was on my own and wasn’t prepared to compromise on my health to go back to working as I did before. I did explore options to side step into another role but I couldn’t justify taking such a huge move into a job that was essentially futile in terms of job satisfaction. My theory was, if I was going to come out of program making to do something unrelated, I should put my skills into something more worthwhile and meaningful.

    What has been your biggest challenge in returning to work?


    The biggest challenge for me was to accept that the career I’d spent my whole life working towards was no longer the best place for me. In terms of my new career, the challenge was accepting that no matter how much I push myself, I’m not quite ready to commit to going back to work. My body isn’t fit enough to do a daily commute or long days in the office so I volunteer to make sure I can physically manage working. Essentially, I had to accept that I’m a now round peg, so I need to take my time and find a role hole instead of trying to be something else. It’s a terrifying prospect, especially when you had your whole life mapped out.

    Has your attitude changed since your cancer diagnosis?

    Yes. Having cancer gives you the chance to take a long hard look at yourself and sometimes, you don’t like what you see. What I saw was someone who sacrificed her whole life for her career and spent a long time trying to please other people at the risk of her own life. Now, I put my health and my family first. I don’t put as much pressure on myself to be this amazing successful career woman because I know the people who love me judge me for who I am not what I am. I don’t do anything that makes me unhappy or compromised. Life is too short to be miserable.

    When you returned to work, I’m sure you must have been pretty apprehensive but what fears did you have that turned out to be unfounded?

    Having met a lot of the team in the capacity of a Macmillan Cancer Voice, I knew the team were lovely and I had nothing to worry about. I think my only worry was walking around with a wig on, knowing people knew it was a wig and that I’d be judged for it.  I was wrong. Nobody judged me at all.  I stopped wearing my wigs and feeling like I needed to hide. As for the lack of hair, nobody ever blinks an eyelid!

    If you go back in time before you were diagnosed and give yourself one piece of advice on how to deal with your cancer, what would it be?

    In hindsight, I wouldn’t be as hard on myself to be ‘brave’ all the time. I spent a long time suppressing my own feelings because I couldn’t bear to see my family upset.  These days, I’m a lot more open about what’s on my mind and if I want to have a rant, I do and then I do something positive to snap out of it.
     
    Where do you see the Facebook group going?

    Eventually, I’d like to see my group expand so I can reach my 5000 target. I’m a great believer in people power and I think amazing things can be achieved if only we all took a bit of responsibility and started doing more. One day, I’d like to find out that someone who joined my group and signed up because of my blogs were identified as match and that their bone marrow saved a life. If I can save just one life by using my experience to talk about this horrible disease, then to me, whatever I’ve been through this year had some sort of reason.

    What’s your favourite part of your new working life?

    I like working with people who have integrity and are as passionate as am about what they do. There are no egos where I work now and it’s really nice to work with other brilliant  creative minds who are as just as completely focused on helping people,  but don’t make you feel  under pressure to work over and above the required hours to achieve your objectives.

    Do you have new career ambitions and goals? What are they?

    One day, I hope to find a full time job in a cancer charity in a role which allows me to use both my TV skills and my experience as a cancer patient/survivor to make a real difference to cancer services in the UK.
     
    How was your first day?

    My first day was amazing. I couldn’t have wished for a nicer bunch of people to work with. My boss (the Head of Communications) gave me some work, assigned me a manager and let me get stuck in with a really interesting project. I came home and I felt like I really used my skills for something that will make a difference. It was a great feeling.

    Did you get back to work because you wanted to go back, or because you needed the money?

    I thought I would have to go back to work sooner that I was ready to and was really worried that when my benefits were next assessed, I wouldn’t qualify. I explained my worries about my specific physical limitations to my doctor and I that would find it difficult for a variety of reasons (mobility, fatigue etc). My Macmillan adviser helped me with my application, my doctor supported my re assessment to the DWP and ESA. Eventually, the support was extended so I was fortunate in that I wasn’t forced to return to work whilst still having treatment. 

    I’ve been really emotional and I’m not sure if I can hide it when I go back, any advice?

    Firstly, it’s ok to be emotional. You’ve had a horrible time and nobody will ever know what cancer is like, unless they or a loved one has experienced it themselves. I think it’s key to ensure that you are emotionally feeling ready to go back. We all know if we are going through inner turmoil it’s very difficult to be focused in work. You may be putting pressure on yourself to go back before you are really ready. To deal with some of your feelings, you may consider joining a support group or contact our Macmillan helpline on (0808  808 0000)  who may able talk about how to deal with some of your feelings. Personally, I find talking to other people who understand helps for me. Finally, you might consider arranging a meal/drink with some of your colleagues before you go back to work. It could break the ice a bit and make going back less daunting.

    For more information about Bengu, please visit her Facebook page.

  • Skin Cancer Web Chat Transcript

    Hello everyone,

    Thanks very much to those of you who came along to our web chat with skin cancer nurse specialist Carol Goodman earlier this month.

    For those of you who didn't make it, here is the transcript which includes some really helpful information about staying safe in the sun for those of you who don't have skin cancer - so don't think it's not relevant!

    I hope you find it useful, and please enjoy the sun safely.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Q:  Carol, have you found that skin cancers are more common or less common now that people are more aware of the risks and ways to help prevent skin cancers?
    A: Skin cancers specifically Basal Cell Cancers (also known as BCC) are more common than ever. 75% of skin cancers are this type.

    Q: Do you think it's mainly due to better rates of detection/awareness, or because people are taking more risks?
    A: It is probably because we are much more aware, older people are showing the signs of years of not protecting their skin against the harmful suns rays because it was not an issue back 40 years or more. The damage starts in childhood. Also we have a tendency to strip off as soon as the sun appears!

    Q: Are you pleased (like me) that under 18's won't be able to use sun beds anymore?
    A: I am very pleased that the government is limiting the use in younger people; melanoma is very prevalent in those between the ages of 15-34.

    Q: Do you know if there's any research that's shown that certain methods of persuasion work better than others - eg, advertising campaigns in other countries that have effectively helped reduce the amount of skin cancers?
    A: Good advertising definitely works. There is a great way to show us what the sun is doing to our skin: a black light or UV lamp will show up the skin damage which is very good to scare you off. It shows people up to have terrible pigmented marks even when young. These marks then show up as you get older.

    Q: Where can you find a black light or UV lamp to do this?
    A: Dermatology clinics have the black light lamps and imaging systems that can do this.  

    Q: I am pleased to hear of increased awareness and education for children and parents on the risks of sunburn and spotting skin cancer early, but there appear to be too many cases where doctors have missed early signs of skin cancer – is anything being done to address this?
    A: It is often difficult to ascertain what lesions or changes are skin cancer and what is not. Early cancers like BCC (basal cell carcinoma) and SCC (squamous cell carcinoma) are often mistaken for solar lentigo, and psoriasis.

    Q: But what about misdiagnosis of melanoma?
    A: That is a difficult one. Moles can appear benign but are not.

    Q: My hubby has CML (chronic myeloid leukemia) and I have also noticed a hard lump on his right shin and it’s getting bigger but he will not go to the doctor. He loves the sun and I have just got him to use sun screen
    A: It’s good that your husband is protecting himself in the sun. The hard lump could be anything, I suggest you see the GP

    Q: I think we need to educate all parents of the importance of frequently applying sun block to kids when they are outside, even when it is cloudy and a campaign aimed at kids so that it would be a normal part of their life.
    A: Educating sun protection in children is vital and this is being addressed more and more in schools, as well as nursery and pre-nursery. Indeed making us all aware that even on a warm cloudy day you can burn. Applying lotions frequently especially if children are swimming is vital. There are also some new lotions (factor 50+) for children that are coloured pale green.  These show if you have missed a part of the skin when applying the lotion. Very helpful.

    Q: Is there any advice you can give about differentiating between all the different sun creams out there? Does a cheap cream generally mean it's not as effective as a more expensive option, even if the SPF is high?
    A: Cheap creams can be just as good as expensive ones. They are all tested in the same way and use the same rating systems.  The more expensive ones tend to be well known cosmetic brands. High sun protection factor (SPF 30 up to 50+) is good, or SPF15 used very freq. High UVB and UVA 5 star rated are the best. Always use up lotion within 2-3 years and try to get one that protects for both UVA and UVB rays.

    Q: I’m worried about a mole but my GP says it’s fine, what should I do?
    A: Ask your GP to refer you to a dermatology out patient clinic for absolute diagnosis or have it removed by them if need be. It is very difficult to decide if something is a cancer or not.  The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has produced guidelines for GP’s to help them with their assessments.

    Q:
    I’ve finished chemo for lymphoma in December, I know my skin is still sensitive, is it best to avoid sun at all cost?
    A: Cover up after chemotherapy if possible. Sit in the shade or stay out between 11-3pm. You can buy special UVA protection clothing, but normal close woven cotton is good too.

    Q: Hi Carol - are there things people should ask their GP before letting them remove a lesion from the skin? Like should they have specific experience in doing this?
    A: Some GP’s are trained to do this if they have a special interest in skin cancers. Ask if they have this specialty as an interest and have they trained to remove lesions.

    Q: What about IPI any signs of it being used more here?
    A: Ipilimumab (IPI) is a monoclonal antibody (MAB). It is being used in Professor Patel’s trial which finishes this July. Used for stage 3 but with very specific criteria.
     IPI for stage four is said to provide a few more months of quality of life. A trial comparing it with chemotherapy ended in 2008.

    Q: My husband is stage 2c and is really well at the moment. We are obviously concerned (understatement!) given his 5 year survival stats. He had no SLNB (sentinel lymph node biopsy) and his last ct (Computerized Axial Tomography scan) was October. Anything we should or can be doing to improve his odds?
    A: We would like to spend time talking with you about this so could you call our helpline 08088080000 and ask to speak to a nurse this may be helpful. We can talk to you in much more detail and specifically to help your husband than this short web chat will permit.

    Q: This is probably a stupid Q, but is there any kind of injection or alternative method of protecting your skin from the sun other than either covering up, or slapping on sun cream at regular intervals?
    A: I’m afraid not. The tried and tested ways are the most trustworthy. If an injection or tablet is ever produced it would have to be trialed thoroughly and to do that it would have to be randomized and controlled over many years. That would mean some of the participants would get a placebo. I am not sure how that would be ethically. If they expose themselves to the sun over many years and assume they are getting protection? I suspect that is not something that could be considered?!

    Q: I thought it was worth asking anyway - you never know, the rate technology/medical science is progressing these days there might be something out there that's in development.    

    Q: What do you think of the lack of scanning available to advance malignant melanoma patient Carol?
    A: Like many types of cancer the need to diagnose really early is vital and is not readily available. It should be as it would save so many lives. Bowel is now checked earlier, if lung, skin especially melanoma, and cervical all were caught early - oh how good that would be!

    Q: Another question on follow up appointments. As I understand anyone with malignant Melanoma gets 3 monthly follow ups for 5 years, but from what I have seen what happens in these follow ups appointments really varies across the country. Some get a full body check; others get a quick 5 mins in/out.
    A: Yes it does vary from place to place. Most appointments should really involve a bodily check depending on the original cancer. Any signs of lymph nodes or other signs and symptoms.

    Q: Would you recommend people had photographs taken of all their moles?
    A: Yes photos are good to keep a record, as is examining moles regularly. You can always photograph your own if you are worried, not all trusts offer this but could always ask

    Q: it's hard to tell if moles have changed I find? What should I look out for?
    A: Yes indeed it is hard to tell – The method of ABCD should be used. See our website on melanoma for this. It stands for asymmetry, border, colour and diameter shows you what to look for

    Q: I have felt that ct (Computerized Axial Tomography) scans with regularity would be more reassuring for myself and my husband.
    A: Given his chances of being stage 4, the earlier this is detected, the better chance he has of receiving ipi (Ipilimumab) or plx (PLX4032 biological treatment) because conventional treatment has to fail first. You can find more information in this journal.

    Q: If someone is diagnosed with melanoma from a biopsy, what sorts of things should they ask their specialist to help them understand the situation? What will happen next? More tests?
    A: It depends on whether it is thin; under 1mm or over 1mm and what stage, if that or later.

    Q: If it's over 1mm what should people ask about?
    A: The stage and thickness of the tumour and the spread, has it ulcerated etc.

    Q: What other reasons other than skin cancer can cause a change in moles - growth or other changes?
    A: There are lots of conditions that can make moles look a little odd that may not be cancer. For example Seborrhoeic keratoses.

    Q: Carol, do you think enough information is provided regarding lymphoedema after lymph node dissection?
    A: I would say more than before but probably not enough. It is a shame because it is a big problem but often can be helped. It’s also common in other cancers breast especially, so clinics tend to be more geared for this.

    Q: I would be very interested in more info on lymphoedema, as I have just had a block dissection and would like to avoid it if possible!
    A: We have booklets available through our helpline or on our website. We can send the booklets out to you if you call the helpline. Booklets are also available on www.be.macmillan.org.uk. Here is a link too.

    Q: Should everyone have a skin cancer specialist nurse?
    A: It is helpful if you have access to a skin cancer nurse specialist/contact.

    Q: Where can people get information and support when dealing with skin cancers and malignant melanoma? Who would you recommend?
    A: I recommend the Macmillan information pages, or the support line for advice and support. The Online Community is also an excellent source of support. Other charities specifically for skin cancer include Skcin, The Melanoma Foundation at St. George's Hospital, and more generally, The British Skin Foundation.

    Q: Where should I go with this my check isn’t until July and I don't see plastic surgeon until June?
    A: You could go to GP or ask to see the specialist earlier.

    Q: I have a specialist nurse but we keep missing each other I have e mailed her but not sure if she can reply to individual e mails?
    A: She should be able to reply to individual emails. Maybe she is not getting these. Often they can go into her spam mail? Try to arrange an appointment first. Don’t be afraid to call her.

    Q: My wound is right on my elbow every time I bend it, it puts pressure on it. Is there anything I can do?
    A: That is difficult. Try to avoid bending it too much in the early stages to permit healing. After a 5-6 weeks gentle exercise and skin care could help.
    Check with you GP or Nurse specialist
       
    If any of you have any suggestions for future web chats, please email me.

  • Bowel cancer diagnosis – what was your experience?

    Apple

    You may have seen the news this weekend that bowel cancer rates have risen sharply among men in the last 30 years – much more than the rates in women. 

    The reasons for the rise are not fully understood, although risk factors for bowel cancer include, age, diet, smoking, a lack of physical activity and a high alcohol intake. Cancer Research UK has said that early diagnosis is essential to save lives. 

    Read more about the symptoms and diagnosis of bowel cancer.

    This got us wondering what experiences of diagnosis our Community members had. Were you aware that it was important to get your symptoms checked out, or did you end up leaving it for a long time? And when you did go to the doctor, did you find that the testing and diagnosis process went smoothly? 

    If you’re affected by bowel cancer, the bowel cancer group here on the Online Community is a great place to share experiences and get support. Recent discussion topics in the bowel cancer group have been:

    Chemo-radiation

    Rectal surgery and side effects

    Lack of appetite

    Living without a colon 

    If you are worried about bowel cancer, or need some support, you can also speak to one of our specialist nurses on 0808 808 0000 (Mon-Fri, 9am-8pm).