Abi - Macmillan

Macmillan's cancer information

This blog will give you regular, high-quality information about cancer. We hope you find it useful. And if there's any topic you'd like us to blog about, just let us know.

Latest Entries
  • Meet Richard!

    Richard has gone from being a nurse to a writer. He is part of Macmillan’s Cancer Information Development team, which produces over 150 cancer information booklets. In this blog, he shares with us his experience of nursing, working for Macmillan, and running a hotel!

    Write a blog about yourself they said. Tell everyone about who you are and how you came to work at Macmillan, and what you do there. Well, here we go...

    Let me introduce myself

    Hello. I’m one of the nurses in Macmillan’s Cancer Information Development team. The team produces a huge range of information for people affected by cancer, in a variety of print, online and audio formats.

    It’s not just nurses, the CID team also includes editors, content developers and editorial assistants. Oh, and a couple of managers!

    The history bit

    I started nursing in the late ‘80s. I had great training at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury. My first job after qualifying was on a medical-haematology ward – looking after people affected by leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. I enjoyed caring for people with cancer and I found it challenging. It wasn’t too long before I upped sticks and moved to London for further experience and training.

    I spent a number of years working and studying at the Royal Marsden Hospital, where I gained a broad experience in all types of cancer – and a degree in Cancer Nursing. Nursing shift patterns (especially nights) became less attractive after a while, so I moved to the cancer information charity Cancerbackup (formerly Cancerbacup), working on their helpline – 9 to 5! I began revising booklets and fact sheets during my time away from the helpline and gradually this part of my role took over.

    Cancerbackup merged with Macmillan in 2008 – and the rest they say is history!

    What I do now

    Working at Macmillan is great. I’m now home-based and work part-time – two days a week. As well as the hours I devote to the Cancer Information team, I also own and run a small hotel in Devon (which keeps me pretty busy for the rest of the week).

    A lot of my Macmillan time is spent revising and updating existing information, but I also get to write some new stuff too – Understanding anal cancer was a recent booklet I put together. I also tweet on the cancer information account @mac_cancerinfo

    Working from home really suits me. I’m pretty good at managing my time and, although I sometimes miss working as part of an (office) team, I have great contact with my colleagues and see them all regularly. Plus, I get help from my cats, who are always keen to lend a hand!

    As you can imagine, there’s a huge amount of work involved in keeping all of Macmillan’s cancer information up to date. But rest assured, there’s a terrific team of professionals beavering away!

    Cancer affects us all. As I get older more friends and family members are diagnosed and treated for cancer. My dad died from a brain tumour a few years back, and a very good friend’s son died from melanoma – he was just 15. So many people and families are going through this awful experience, but I’m proud to work somewhere that’s there to help, to help people understand what’s happening to them and give them the support they need.


    We're with you every step of the way

    The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

    Comments? Feel free to add them below (you need to be logged in – if you still can't see the comment box, click on this blog's title at the top).

    Keep in touch Follow Macmillan’s cancer information team on Twitter @mac_cancerinfo

  • Bored of switching between fruit juice and water? Try these fun and tasty non-alcoholic cocktails!

    Having cancer treatment does not mean that you should draw a line on festivities. There’s always going to be a birthday or an anniversary to celebrate. When you’re not too tired you may want to have friends around for dinner or for a party.

    If you’ve had enough of alternating between fruit juice and water and want something a little more festive, there are some fun and delicious alcohol-free cocktails you can mix.

    Full of flavours, fresh fruits and bubbles (lemonade or soda water!), they can be truly delicious and offer a healthy and fun alternative to regular soft drinks.

    Our very conscientious team of editors agreed that we could not possibly write a blog about mocktails without sampling them first. Research is essential. So last week, armed with a blender, some ice and a bag full of fresh fruits, we set out for our alcohol-free cocktail evening. Abi was kind enough to let us invade her kitchen and hosted a great, vitamin-filled party.

    We tried 4 types of mocktails, all very different but all extremely successful amongst our team.

    Here are the recipes. The proportions are for 4 glasses.


    Lemon and Ginger Fizz

    • 5 teaspoons of (fine) caster sugar
    • Juice of 4 lemons
    • 16 slices of fresh ginger
    • Soda water
    • Ice
    • Fresh mint to sprinkle


    A photos of Sarah, Abi and Debbie drinking Lemon and ginger fizz

    Mix the sugar, the lemon juice and the ginger in a blender. Pour the mix in a jug and add soda water and ice cubes. Sprinkle with fresh mint and serve.

    We thought this was a light, zesty and very refreshing cocktail. Ideal to open your appetite. I’ve made it again since and served it to friends last weekend. They just loved it.


    Rum-free Mojito

    • Juice of 2 or 3 limes depending on how juicy they are
    • A small bunch of fresh mint
    • 8 tablespoons of brown (Demerara) sugar
    • Soda water
    • Ice
    • Slices of cucumber

    Mix the lime juice, the sugar and the mint in the blender. Pour the mix in glasses and top up with soda water and ice. Add some slices of cucumber to decorate.

     A photo of rum-free mojitos

    Easy and incredibly tasty!  It was probably our favourite that night.


    Virgin Colada

    • 16cl (160ml) of coconut milk
    • 36cl (360ml) of pineapple juice
    • Ice cubes

    Mix all ingredients in the blender including the ice cubes until you obtain a smooth mixture.

    This is a very exotic drink and definitely tastes of holiday. We had it at the end of our evening and it was almost like a dessert!


    Strawberry and beetroot (yes,  indeed!)

    • 100g of cooked beetroot
    • 20cl (200ml) apple juice
    • A pack of strawberries
    • Lemonade

    Mix the beetroot and the strawberries in the blender. Add the apple juice and blend again. Pour into a glass and top up with cold lemonade.

    A photo of Sarah and Abi drinking a strawberry and beetroot cocktail

    By far the most surprising beverage of the night and Sarah’s favourite, this deep pink drink is definitely on the sweet side.

    The fun thing about all those alcohol free cocktails is that you can experiment and be creative. Use the fruits that you love and add your own touch.

    And of course, if you are taking part in the Go Sober October campaign, don't hesitate to try those delicious recipes!

    So to your blenders... ready, steady, mix!

    Comments? Feel free to add them below (you need to be logged in – if you still can't see the comment box, click on this blog's title at the top).

     Keep in touch Follow Macmillan’s cancer information team on Twitter @mac_cancerinfo

     The recipes are adapted from virgincucumber.com 

  • Accessible information about cancer from Macmillan

    Did you know...

    Infographic - learning needs in the UK

    With the ambition to reach and improve the lives of everyone living with cancer, it’s important for Macmillan to develop cancer information for people with different needs. After all, cancer doesn’t discriminate. This week, we’ve added some new easy read booklets and British Sign Language videos to our website – visit macmillan.org.uk/otherformats

    We hope these new formats will go some way towards helping more people than ever before.

    Easy read PDFs

    Our 52 easy read PDFs use simple words and pictures to tell people about cancer. They were produced by CHANGE, a national human rights organisation.

    Topics include breast cancer screening, healthy eating and having chemotherapy.

    On the web page, we’ve also included links to easy read information produced by other

    Image of front covers of some easy read booklets about cancer

    British Sign Language videos

    We’ve launched two new videos in British Sign Language (BSL) about chemotherapy and surgery. Produced with Ramon Woolf, a BSL user and cancer patient, they were reviewed by BSL users with a cancer experience.

    Macmillan now has eight BSL videos covering the following topics:

    • Radiotherapy
    • Coping with hair loss
    • Diet and cancer
    • Financial support
    • Advanced cancer
    • Living with colon cancer
    • Chemotherapy
    • Surgery

    Still image from a BSL video about chemotherapy

    What do you think about our new accessible information? Please contact Abi Delderfield at adelderfield@macmillan.org.uk with any questions or comments.


    1 British Institute for Learning difficulties. Learning difficulties. http://www.bild.org.uk/information/factsheets/

    2 http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/supporting-you/policy-research-and-influencing/research/access-all-areas.aspx

    3 http://www.rnib.org.uk/aboutus/research/statistics/Pages/statistics.aspx

    4 http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census/key-statistics-and-quick-statistics-for-wards-and-output-areas-in-england-and-wales/STB-2011-census--quick-statistics-for-england-and-wales--march-2011.html

    We're with you every step of the way

    The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

    Comments? Feel free to add them below (you need to be logged in – if you still can't see the comment box, click on this blog's title at the top).

    Keep in touch Follow Macmillan’s cancer information team on Twitter @mac_cancerinfo

  • The cancer info team support World’s Biggest Coffee Morning!

    Drinking coffee and eating cake whilst raising lots of money for Macmillan – what’s not to love?!

    The Cancer Information Development team has been out and about in various locations to support coffee mornings this year. Have a look at what some of our team got up to...

    Cancer Content Developer Debbie went along to Streatham Ice Rink and Leisure Centre. There was also a jumble sale and raffle there. Plus a guess-the-weight-of-the-cake.

    An image of Debbie at Streatham Ice Rink coffee morning

    Selina, our Editorial Manager, was asked to judge the best cake at the Minet Library in Myatt’s Fields. Watch out Mary Berry!

    An image of Selina judging the best cake at the Minet Library

    The judges chose this rather tasty looking lemon drizzle cake as the winner – yum!

    An image of the winning lemon drizzle cake

    Also asked to judge cakes was Senior Information Development Nurse Sue. Here she is at Bluecoats Sports Health and Fitness Club with a selection of delicious cakes – it’s a hard job but somebody had to do it...

    An image of Sue with lots of cakes at her local sports centre

    Abi, Editor, had a busy evening of baking prior to her coffee morning. She was up past midnight and her kitchen suffered a bit...

    An image of Abi's messy kitchen after a night of baking

    But it was all worth it, as the coffee morning raised £356.72!

    Here’s Abi and her sister with some pictures from the coffee morning:

    An image of Abi and her sister's coffee morning

    “Seeing someone put a £20 note in the donation box certainly brought back to me how much people value Macmillan’s support. I was proud to be there wearing a Macmillan T-shirt and telling people I work for Macmillan. Knowing that all around the country, people were doing what I was doing, enjoying a sociable morning and raising money for an important cause, was a brilliant start to the day. The food was great too!” Abi

    Managing Editor Emma attended a coffee morning at Bracknell Leisure Centre. The Centre is also home to a preschool, so there were lots of young supporters there on the day keen to sample the cake.

    An image of the young supporters at Bracknell Leisure Centre

    Emma’s daughter Poppy was also very chuffed with the Macmillan balloon that she picked up from the coffee morning.

    An image of Poppy and a Macmillan balloon

    One keen baker produced some impressive Macmillan logo cakes!

    An image of Macmillan branded butterfly cakes

    And BBC Berkshire even turned up to report on the event! The coffee morning raised around £350 – that’s £100 more than last year.

    Our Editorial Assistants Elissia and Imogen, and Senior Information Development Nurse Tracy headed to Language Connect, who translate our information into different languages. They had lots of fun with masks, while Language Connect hoped to beat their £80 target from last year.

    An image of some of the cancer info team wearing masks at the coffee morning

    Saj, Cancer Information Manager, headed to the M&S in Hemel Hempstead and even did a bit of cycling to attract potential donators and work off that cake!

    An image of Saj holding a bucket in the shopping centre

    Meanwhile, Senior Editor Sarah and Editors Marilisa and Emma went along to a coffee morning hosted by The Ritzy in Brixton.

    An image of some editors at the Ritzy cinema coffee morning

    There were lots of delicious homemade cakes, onion bhajis, quiche and brownies. They even had Macmillan’s cancer information on display.

    An image of some of the information Macmillan produce

    It’s always great to see the fruits of our labour being given out in public. We’re proud of all of our booklets and leaflets, and we hope they help those who use them.

    We had a great time at Coffee Morning this year, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s! In 2013, the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning raised over £20 million for Macmillan – let’s see how we do this year!

    The money raised will help Macmillan be there for everyone affected by cancer. It will fund nurses, the Macmillan support line, cancer support centres in hospitals, and much more. It will make sure people have the support they desperately need when they’re going through the toughest time of their life. So pats on the back all round for everyone who attended or hosted a Coffee Morning this year!

    Did you go to a Macmillan Coffee Morning or host one yourself?

    We’d love to hear what you did. Please share your stories and pictures in the comments below (you need to be logged in – if you still can't see the comment box, click on this blog's title at the top).

    We're with you every step of the way

    The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

    Keep in touch Follow Macmillan’s cancer information team on Twitter @mac_cancerinfo

  • Changing seasons

    Written by Debbie, one of our Living with cancer editors.

    There’s a brisk chill in the morning air, a kaleidoscope of leaves on the ground and the evenings are gradually shuffling in. Some of us here in the office (myself included) are still clinging stubbornly to our summer sandals. Others have relinquished and embraced their autumn boots with gusto. At the very least, chances are your diary has cleared of BBQs, weddings, festivals and fairs.

    Many people love autumn – the colours, the nip in the air and the chance to wrap up warm and hibernate in their homes. But others may greet the cooler weather, diminishing sunlight and inevitable countdown to winter with dread.

    For people affected by cancer, particularly people who live alone, it is especially important you don’t let the change of season get you down. In fact, a change in season can often be a good time to assess your current lifestyle and instil some new healthier routines.

    Try out these tips to keep the end-of-summer blues at bay:

    Stay connected

    Don’t hide away. The end of summer shouldn’t mean the end of your social calendar. There may be fewer events organised and the weather may not be as inviting, but it is important to stay in touch with family and friends. If left unchecked, feelings of loneliness and isolation can quickly lead to feelings of anxiety and depression.

    If you are finding the change of season difficult, talk to someone about it. You can visit our online community to connect with other people affected by cancer or call the Macmillan Support Line.

    Keep active

    Being physically active is a natural mood-booster. It has also been shown to reduce symptoms and side effects, aid recovery after cancer treatment and, in some studies, reduce the chances of cancer coming back. And there is no reason why we can’t enjoy physical activity outdoors once summer is over. Autumn can be one of the most beautiful times of year and the cooler weather can make activity more pleasant.

    Walking for Health, run by Macmillan and the Ramblers, lead organised walks throughout England. Paths for All in Scotland and Let’s Walk Cymru in Wales run similar schemes. In Northern Ireland, you can contact the Physical Activity Co-ordinator in your local health trust to find out about health walks.

    Eat well

    Eating well will help you maintain or regain your strength during and after cancer treatment. Though it’s tempting to indulge in hearty, comfort foods in the colder weather, a healthy balanced diet will give you more energy and increase your sense of well-being. It can also help reduce the risk of new cancers, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

    Plan something to look forward to

    Whether it’s a dinner with friends, a day out or a longer holiday, having something to look forward to can help to motivate us and keep us feeling positive. If you want to do something a little different, check out the Macmillan events happening near you this autumn. There is everything from challenge events to arts exhibitions. And don’t forget it’s the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning this Friday 26th September. So make sure you find a slice of cake to enjoy near you.

    Our booklet How are you feeling? discusses more ways to manage difficult feelings when you have been diagnosed with cancer.


    We're with you every step of the way

    The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

    Comments? Feel free to add them below (you need to be logged in – if you still can't see the comment box, click on this blog's title at the top).

    Keep in touch Follow Macmillan’s cancer information team on Twitter @mac_cancerinfo

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