‘This is my legacy’ - Incurable cancer patient from Edinburgh uses final years to help others
A mother-of-two with incurable secondary breast cancer has used what could be the last years of her life to build a comprehensive online directory of cancer services, hoping to help newly diagnosed patients find the help they need.
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Cancer Cards is set to launch in May 2022 and will provide patients with a detailed index of support services available, helping individuals navigate the complicated world of cancer.
Founded by Jen Hardy, who was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in October 2017, the 52-year-old said most cancer patients face a solitary struggle to find correct support post-diagnosis.
The medically retired IT professional remembers the lonely months she faced after diagnosis at the Western General Hospital four year ago.
“My consultant gave me a massive pile of pamphlets that were all out of date,” recalls Mrs Hardy.
“The last thing someone who has just been told they have cancer needs is contact numbers for services that no longer exist.”
Trying to process her diagnosis of incurable cancer and unable to find the support she needed, Mrs Hardy had to learn how to navigate the complex world of cancer care by herself.
“A lot of people who haven’t been affected by cancer don’t know that there is not one place you can go to for information,” she said. “But it took me ages to find the non-medical information I needed.
“It was all-consuming work, I had to read a lot of books, make a lot of calls and spend a lot of time on social media while my head was totally scrambled trying to process my diagnosis.”
There are so many amazing services out there
Over the following years, Mrs Hardy has collated information on all services available to her in Edinburgh and has had help from Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie and Maggie’s.
She said: “There are so many amazing services out there that can help make people’s cancer journeys that bit easier.
“There are charities offering everything from Chemo Bags preparing you from chemotherapy to free holidays with your family. But there is no one place that you can go to find out about everything you need.”
Ms Hardy hopes that Cancer Cards will help bridge this gap and make the process of being diagnosed with cancer a little easier to cope with.
“My idea is that when someone is diagnosed the consultant will hand them our yellow card which has got details of our web address on it,” said Mrs Hardy.
“They can go home and go onto the website and all of the information is right there. We hope they won’t feel as alone and can find everything they need quickly and easily.”
This is my legacy
Unable to continue working due to the time consuming and exhausting treatment Mrs Hardy and her team are working flat out to make sure Cancer Cards can launch next year.
She said: “I am dedicating what is left of my life to creating Cancer Cards because I don’t want anybody to have to go through what I went through.
“This is something I want to create to leave the world a better place for anyone affected by cancer, this is my legacy.”