This is a transcript of my My View column that was published in the Doncaster Star on Monday 25 July, 2016
Newly released figures show that more Doncaster people than ever are surviving cancer – and I’m delighted to say that our success has been recognised recently by Parliament.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer has awarded the CCG a certificate for being one of the top 20 most improved areas in the country when it comes to patients surviving cancer for at least one year after diagnosis.
The figures show that 68.5 per cent of those Doncaster people who had been diagnosed with cancer in 2013 were still alive at the end of December 2014 – a 1.3 per cent improvement on the previous 12 months figures.
But, crucially, behind the statistics are real Doncaster people. In simple terms, that 1.3 per cent increase equates to an additional a 33 people given an opportunity to beat the disease, compared to the previous year’s figures.
The local boost is because all of us – patients, GPs and health workers – getting better at spotting the signs of cancer earlier and doing something about it. It’s a simple, successful equation: early diagnosis + fast access to treatment = a better chance of survival.
The Macmillan Cancer Support charity reports that in 2010 some 8,700 people were living with or beyond cancer in Doncaster and this is estimated to rise to 16,900 by 2030. This is more people than it would take to fill Doncaster Rovers’ Keepmoat Stadium.
Nobody talks about what life will be like after treatment. Family and friends hope that life will return to ‘normal’. But after someone has been through cancer it’s hard to know what ‘normal’ is, as there are many psychological and emotional effects of cancer treatment. People describe how they feel reluctant to keep talking about cancer after they have had the all clear.
A group supporting men who have prostate cancer, or have been through it, has been set up in Doncaster. The Doncaster Prostate Cancer Support Group meets to discuss issues that men may not want to share with family and friends. They can talk openly about the side effects of treatment and how to manage them after the cancer has gone.
John Williams, 76, from Denaby Main – pictured – is a member and regularly attends the Group’s meetings. He does so because he thinks that nothing can beat one-to-one support and being able to talk over his concerns with someone ‘who has been there’.
He agrees that most men don’t talk openly about their problems, they bottle them up, but the support group offers an opportunity to come along and be open.
The Group has been given a £500 boost from Macmillan Cancer Support to enable it to keep running.
If you or a loved one has prostate cancer or has been through it, you are welcome to attend the support group, which meets at the Urology Department at Doncaster Royal Infirmary on the first Friday of every month. Ring John Weston on 07708 165100 for more information.