Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

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It’s as tough, if not tougher, for the family as for the patient

Family is still the most important support that we have on the cancer journey according to Colin Pritchard, Research Professor at Bournemouth University’s School of Health and Social Care.   ‘If you have no family it is very hard for a patient to go home from chemotherapy treatment alone,’ Colin said, ‘If you do have family it can be as tough if not tougher for the family as for the patient.’

Colin was speaking from his personal experience of cancer in reply to my question on quality of life for those people living with and after cancer.  He felt that the type of ongoing support that we can offer through Dorset Macmillan Advocacy was invaluable especially for people who are isolated.  He also described the ‘rollercoaster experience’ over several years of a friend having to cope with cancer recurrence.

I attended the public talk by Colin as part of the Bournemouth University annual Festival of Learning.  He presented his research under the title ‘Just how good or bad is the NHS in reducing cancer deaths? A comparison with the USA and the other Western nations’. He co-wrote the research with Dr Tamas Hickish, a consultant medical oncologist at Poole and Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch hospitals in Dorset.

Kathleen Gillett and Professor Colin Pritchard

Kathleen Gillett and Professor Colin Pritchard

The research, which is shortly to be updated, shows that the  NHS in England and Wales has helped achieve the biggest drop in cancer deaths and displayed the most efficient use of resources among 10 leading countries worldwide, according to the study published in the British Journal of Cancer in 2011.  At Dorset Macmillan Advocacy, one of our challenges is to help people living with and beyond cancer to enjoy a good quality of life through the support of our peer volunteer advocates.