Let us never take Cancer Care West for granted

Sometimes in society, what we cannot see are the most important things; the groups and people we take for granted. That what lies in front of us is hidden, until it is most needed. And then like a genie hiding behind a bush, it leaps out and supports you, and takes your hand at the very time you need your hand taken.

For those who receive a diagnosis, they are suddenly sailing along and then bang, they are a vulnerable piece of mass; their life in the care of others. And all the pretence there is about how great we are just melts away into a mush. And then everything is flipped on its head, because what used to matter doesn’t matter anymore. And what used not matter, now matters very much.

I refer this week to Cancer Care West and of the startling headline from their annual report, that they have never, ever been busier. That in the length of their existence, the demand for their services has never been higher.

But lest we think that this busy-ness is all down to more cancer; that we are losing the battle with that bastard of a disease, that is not the entire picture. Yes, there are more cancers being diagnosed but there are also more ways of treating it; that a diagnosis is not the nightmare it once was. Now, much of their work is done with rehabilitation and after-care; with support plans and exercise programmes. Cancer Care West are there to answer the questions that cancer patients don’t know who to ask. They know the real practicalities that have to be addressed — and they address them.

Thankfully I have never had cancer, but I am glad that I live in a region where such a service as Cancer Care West exists. Ever day, there are about 100 people who have been hit by the speeding train that a diagnosis is; who are left reeling, not knowing which way to look. These are the people who have been taken by the hand by Cancer Care West.

Cancer Care West were one of the first to acknowledge that a cancer impacts not just on the person receiving the diagnosis, but on their family as well. In this way, they have used empathy to put themselves into the shoes of the patents, their families, their friends, their doctors, their carers and set out to provide a holistic service that is wrapped around the concept of care and nurturing.

From our point of view, we have to remember that two thirds of what it costs to run this service comes from those who support races, who shake buckets, who organise cake sales, who dye or shave or wax their hair.

That is why we can never do too much for Cancer Care West — never. None of knows when we will need this service. To make sure it is there, and operating at optimal levels, never again pass a Cancer Care West fundraiser without offering a few bob. Or if you haven’t a few bob, offer to help in some way that encourages those with a few bob. Do your bit.

To Cancer Care West, a big thank you for those whose lives you have changed. Keep up the great work. Your region needs you. And always will.

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