Dr Nick Tupper blog: Supporting Alison in her time of need

nicktupperRecent figures from Cancer Research UK indicate that half of the UK population will develop cancer at some point in their lives.

So we can be pretty sure that, even if we aren’t personally diagnosed with the disease, we’ll certainly have close friends, relatives or workmates who will be.

At such times it’s important to give as much practical and emotional support as possible.

That’s the case at my GP workplace, Doncaster’s Kingthorne Practice, where our practice manager Alison Maw is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Alison is receiving great support from workmates, who have dubbed themselves ‘Ali’s Pink Army’ and yesterday they demonstrated this in style by accompanying her as she took part in Doncaster’s 5k Race for Life on Town Fields.

Alison’s mum Margaret and daughter Lexie also took part in the walk, making it a real family effort as well.

Last week colleagues invited Alison to a fundraising ‘wear pink’ day at Kingthorne, which was also supported by other GP practices in Doncaster that have made donations. As I write this column the ‘Army’ are well on their way to raising £1,000 for breast cancer research in support of Alison.

The good news is that more women are surviving breast cancer than ever before, thanks to earlier detection and treatment. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, with around 140 women being diagnosed with the disease every day. Men can also get breasts cancer but it’s very rare.

Women should get into the habit of being breast aware, which means:

  •  Knowing what is normal for you
  •  Look and feel your breasts
  •  Know what changes to look for
  •  Report any changes without delay

Look for:

  • Changes in the size, shape or feel of your breasts
  • A new lump or thickening in one breast or armpit
  • Any puckering, dimpling or redness of the skin
  • Changes in the position of the nipple, a rash or nipple discharge
  • Pain or discomfort that is new to you and felt only on one side

If you notice any of these or any other unusual changes to your breasts see your GP.

If you’re touched by cancer, having the right kind of information and support at the right time is essential. Doncaster people can use the Living Well Information and Support Service, based at the St John’s Information and Support Centre at Balby’s Tickhill Road Hospital site. Staff offer lots of help, including face-to-face or telephone emotional support, links to national and local support service and booklets and DVDs. They also link into local Aurora centres and Doncaster’s Cancer Buddies team, who provide support to those who have been on a similar cancer journey, and their carers. Ring 01302 796853 to make an appointment or to find out more.

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