Cancer charities like Fight Against Cancer Edinburgh are heroes for their work to help bereaved families – Steve Cardownie
Having had first-hand experience of the work of the unit, where I attended to get treatment for my prostate cancer, I was interested in finding out more about her group’s activities. Liz Cann told me that she is one of about ten regular volunteers (augmented by many more) from the charity Fight Against Cancer Edinburgh (Face) who devote a great deal of time and energy to help cancer patients and their families deal with the traumatic circumstances many of them find themselves in.
Liz said that Face undertakes fundraising activities throughout the year and receive donations which finance their work. The volunteers are not paid any money and all funds raised go directly into their projects. Face has provided a special reclining wheelchair, four foldable wheelchairs, with a further seven yet to be delivered, all for the use of the oncology unit. It has also established a garden for patients and visitors as well as paying for furniture for the unit’s waiting rooms.
One of the events that the charity organises is an annual visit to Lapland where children and surviving parents are invited on an all-expenses paid trip to see Santa Claus. Last year’s trip was undertaken by a group of 40 participants. Neil Crozier, who went on a previous trip, told me that he and his son, Calum, and daughter, Caitlin, were invited by Face to come on the excursion.
He said that “we had lost their beautiful mum/my wife Kirstie to cancer the previous year in December 2016 at the age of just 43”. His children were only nine and six at the time and it was a very difficult, emotional time for the family. He told me that “the wonderful volunteers from Face helped put a smile back on my kids’ faces during a very dark time in our lives”. Neil added that “this annual trip takes bereaved and sick children to Lapland for a once-in-a-lifetime epic journey that includes various winter pursuits such as sledging and husky rides and is rounded off with a magical trip to meet Santa in his log cabin”.
Macmillan Cancer Support estimated last October that there are currently three million people living with cancer in the UK, with the numbers expected to rise to 3.5 million by 2025 and 5.3 million by 2040. The NHS has stated that one in two people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime.
Early diagnosis and treatment was crucial in my case and I was extremely grateful for the professionalism and support I was offered by the Western’s oncology unit. But what the above statistics demonstrate is that cancer is still very much out there, affecting so many families who have to deal with the consequences.