Cancer Card charity provides a one-stop shop for advice and support that Scottish Government should embrace – Miles Briggs

Last Thursday at the Scottish Parliament, I sponsored a members’ debate to highlight the work of Cancer Card, a charity set up to give a single source of information to people who have been diagnosed with the condition.

I was delighted that Cancer Card founder Jen Hardy and chief executive Ian Pirrie were in the in the public gallery to watch the debate, which they described as a “proud moment”. I first met Jen back in March 2018 when she successfully campaigned alongside women with incurable breast cancer and the charity Breast Cancer Now to help deliver access to the drug Perjeta.

Jen was diagnosed with incurable, stage four breast cancer on October 18, 2017, after having a CT scan to find out the cause of her paralysed vocal cord. Whilst searching for cancer support, Jen noticed there was no single place or online resource that listed the hundreds of different services, support providers, information channels and free experiences available to people and their families living with the condition.

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It was this realisation that prompted Jen, who has an IT background, to work to establish Cancer Card, to help create that single place, single online point of access for anyone affected to find the help and support they need. Cancer Card, launched in May, provides a detailed index of support services available, helping individuals navigate what can often be a complicated and complex world.

I know that it is incredibly hard to have the difficult conversations with someone living with cancer about their treatment journey and indeed the many and often personal questions a wife, husband, mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son or friend wants to ask. That is where Cancer Card is so wonderful, it recognises that support needs to reach more than just the person living with cancer, but indeed their partners, families, friends, employers and professionals.

The significance of a cancer diagnosis on an individual's life is immense, with the potential to render them feeling lost, frustrated, fatigued, isolated or financially disadvantaged when trying to obtain information of a non-medical, but nonetheless essential, nature. At a time when patients and their families need the most support, it can often be difficult to find the right information at the right time, for the right person.

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Cancer Card seeks to address this through an online support hub where people can find valuable insights from others using the service and access to local and national charities and services, including financial help, exercise classes, counselling, and local support networks.

There is no cost to users or charities for the services listed and indeed for local groups this presents a great opportunity to highlight what is available locally in different parts of the country.

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It can be hard to find the right information and advice following a cancer diagnosis, a problem that Cancer Card seeks to address (Picture: American Cancer Society via Getty Images)

The Scottish Government is currently undertaking work on a new Scottish cancer strategy, I believe this presents an opportunity to reset and reconsider how support and advice is provided and how, especially during and following the pandemic, access has shifted online. I hope this new strategy will embrace Cancer Card and this fresh and new approach to providing information and advice services.

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For anyone who would like to learn more about cancer card, please visit cancercard.org.uk

Miles Briggs is a Conservative MSP for Lothian