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Cervical Screening Awareness Week

Cervical Screening Awareness Week

By | Awareness and Early Diagnosis, Cancer Champions | No Comments

Cervical Screening Awareness Week (20-26 June) is championed by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and raises the profile of cervical screening by sharing tips and experiences for those who find accessing screening appointments difficult.

To mark Cervical Screening Awareness Week, the Cancer Alliance is offering free bitesize cervical screening awareness sessions to people living in Humber and North Yorkshire. The sessions will teach people about:

  • • the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer
  • • HPV and the HPV vaccination programme
  • • what happens at a cervical screening test
  • • hints, tips and experiences that will help women and people with a cervix feel more able to book a test

To sign up for a free 30-minute session, please click here

For more information about the NHS Cervical Screening Programme, please visit.

Photo of volunteers standing out side a shop front holding a cheque

Charity shop raises £20k for cancer equipment

By | Cancer Diagnosis and Innovations

A charity shop in Cleethorpes has raised £20,000, which will benefit bowel cancer patients at Grimsby hospital.

Sea View Cancer Charity Shop has been drumming up funds for the Health Tree Foundation (HTF) – the hospital’s official charity – for the last four years.

Photo of volunteers standing out side a shop front holding a cheque

Volunteers at the Sea View Cancer Charity Shop in Cleethorpes

The money has been raised through donations customers have made and sales made through the store. It will be put towards specialist equipment, which will help bowel cancer patients who need treatment during a very difficult time.

Prue Stillings, 72, one of the volunteers, who has worked at the store since it opened in the late 1970s, said: “It is fantastic that the money we have raised will go towards helping cancer patients at the hospital. I have had cancer myself three times so I wanted to give something back to people who have been through what I have.

“All of the ladies that work in the shop are volunteers and one of them is 94! We did struggle during the pandemic as we couldn’t open but things have got better recently. We received a grant from the council which really helped us. We are hoping to continue to raise more money for the charity in the future.”

The shop has previously raised more than £20,000 for HTF’s Rear into Gear appeal, which went towards new state-of-the-art equipment for the Colorectal Team at Grimsby and Scunthorpe hospitals.

Miss Stillings, who has previously been invited to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen thanks to her fundraising efforts, added: “We started raising money after I lost my father and brother in the same week to cancer. We used to be based on St Peter’s Avenue but eventually moved to Sea View Street. We have raised more than £1 million over the years for various cancer causes.”

Lucy Skipworth, Grimsby Community Champion for HTF, said: “I am delighted that the Sea View Cancer Charity Shop has raised this incredible amount of money for us. It will really help our patients who use our cancer services.”

Cancer Alliance Stakeholder Newsletter – June 2022

By | Stakeholder Updates | No Comments

Click here to read the latest edition of Humber and North Yorkshire Cancer Alliance’s stakeholder newsletter.

This edition includes updates on:

  • The Cancer Alliance’s 2021/22 annual report launch
  • A patient helping to support people affected by ovarian cancer
  • New research to evaluate if a blood test can detect cancer
  • Free training that is providing vital awareness of cancer
  • And much, much more!
Image of two people sat on an outdoor bench looking at each other.

Latest Cancer Quality of Life survey results published

By | Involvement Opportunities, Living with and Beyond Cancer | No Comments

The latest set of results for the Cancer Quality of Life Survey have been released.

The survey aims to find out how quality of life may have changed for people diagnosed with cancer, helping to identify where care is working well or not so well, and whether any new services are required to improve quality of life.

The inaugural Quality of Life survey results were released in September 2021 and are updated every six months, with the latest set of results released in late April 2022.

When the survey was first launched only people who had received a breast, prostate or colorectal cancer diagnosis were asked to complete the survey around 18 months after diagnosis.

Although since July 2021 the survey has been extended to capture the views of all cancer patients 18 months post-diagnosis, the results are still restricted to breast, prostate or colorectal cancer patients while results for other cancers are collated in numbers worth analysing.

The results show that quality of life for people affected by cancer in Humber and North Yorkshire (80.7 out of 100) was slightly higher than for those with a cancer diagnosis living in the rest of England (80.4).

Image of two people sat on an outdoor bench looking at each other.

The average overall health score for cancer respondents in Humber and North Yorkshire was 75.2 (out of 100) – the same as the national average. Unsurprisingly this figure is significantly lower than the average score for non-cancer patients which is 81.8.

To date the survey has been sent to 3,282 people in Humber and North Yorkshire and 1,795 of these people have completed the survey. The Humber and North Yorkshire Cancer Alliance’s response rate of 54.7% is the fifth highest response rate of the 21 cancer alliances in England.

Find out more: https://www.cancerdata.nhs.uk/cancerqol

3,000 people could benefit from ‘life saving checks’ as NHS lung health check service moves to Tesco Superstore in Orchard Park

By | Awareness and Early Diagnosis, Cancer Diagnosis and Innovations | No Comments

3,000 people could benefit from ‘life saving checks’ as NHS lung health check service moves to Tesco Superstore in Orchard Park

A high-tech mobile screening unit, which is helping to save lives through earlier diagnosis of lung cancer and other conditions, has just arrived at Tesco Superstore on Hall Road in Orchard Park.

The relocation of the NHS lung health check unit marks the start of approximately 3,000 more people being invited to attend the service, which offers those at increased risk of lung cancer an MOT for their lungs.

The NHS lung health check service originally launched in west Hull in January 2020 and has since delivered over 8,700 assessments, helped to diagnose cancer and other respiratory diseases at an early stage, and provided opportunities for earlier treatment that has saved people’s lives.

Current and former smokers who live in Hull, are aged from 55 to 74 and are registered with a GP in the north Hull area, will receive a lung health check invitation from their GP over the next few weeks.

The lung health check takes place in two stages. The first is an initial phone assessment with a specially trained respiratory nurse.

Christine (left) and Danny (right) sat on a bench outdoors.

Danny (right) received curative treatment after his lung health check helped to identify lung cancer early.

If the assessment finds the person to be at high risk, they will be offered a low dose CT scan of the lungs for further investigation.

The CT scanner is housed on board a high-tech mobile screening unit that has previously been located at North Point Shopping Centre in north Hull and Lidl in west Hull. As the service moves around the city, participants who wish to stop smoking are also offered expert support and advice.

Dr Masood Balouch, a local GP and NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group Board member, said: “Having supported many patients with advanced lung cancer, I know how vitally important it is to book your lung health check appointment when invited, even if you feel fine.

“Lung cancer is commonly diagnosed at a late stage as there often no symptoms in the earliest stages, but lung health checks are helping us to spot cancer earlier, often before symptoms occur.

“If you are registered with a GP practice in north Hull and receive a lung health check invite, don’t ignore it – book your appointment straight away. If you are experiencing symptoms of lung cancer, contact your GP straight away and do not wait for a lung health check.”

Dr Gavin Anderson, Responsible Clinician for NHS Targeted Lung Health Checks in Hull, said: “Following an initial telephone assessment with a specialised respiratory nurse, eligible participants may be invited to attend a follow-up CT scan on board the mobile unit.

“There are lots of safety measures on board to reduce any risk of Covid-19 and the dedicated team are available to answer any questions you may have either before or after your appointment.

“Lung health check scan results are analysed by a specialist clinical ‘hub’ within the hospital and participants receive their results in approximately two weeks. If further follow up is needed, participants are referred by the service to their GP or hospital.”

Dr Stuart Baugh, Clinical Director at Humber and North Yorkshire Cancer Alliance, said: “People diagnosed with lung cancer at the earliest stage are nearly 20 times more likely to survive for five years than those whose cancer is caught late.

“The rollout of the NHS Targeted Lung Health Check Programme is a huge step towards achieving our NHS Long Term Plan ambition of catching more cancers at an earlier stage when they are easier to treat.

“The service has already received fantastic feedback from people who have taken part and we look forward to helping even more people as the service continues to move around the city. If you or a member of your family receive a lung health check invitation, don’t ignore it – book your appointment without delay.”

Find out more about lung health checks in Hull at www.lunghealthcheck.org.uk.

Photo of Helen and her brother at a RideLondon event. Helen is wearing a t-shirt and has short blond hair. She is wearing sunglasses. Her brother is wearing a cycling top and helmet.

Living with Ovarian Cancer: Helen’s story

By | Living with and Beyond Cancer | No Comments

Helen Heagren, from Grimsby, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2016. Six years later, she is living with cancer and has shared her story in the hope that it will help others to become aware of the symptoms and know that support is available.

In 2015, Helen was living in Essex and worked as a Teaching Assistant. In the run up to her 50th birthday, she noticed her weight had ‘crept up’ and decided she was going to fit and drop a few dress sizes.

“Having set myself target of becoming a size 12, I joined a local gym and took part in dance and aerobic classes most days. After 10 months, I managed to reach my weight loss target however, I still had a little belly so I decided to keep going.

“One Saturday morning, whilst doing pelvic exercises, I felt something strange move and it played on my mind after the class, although I can’t really say why. I decided to contact my GP and an appointment was made for three weeks later.

A photo of Helen's stomach which she describes as looking pregnant at the time of the photo.

“Whilst waiting for my appointment, I noticed my belly had started to expand and it looked like I was pregnant. Although pregnancy tests were saying I wasn’t, a concerned colleague who had also noticed that my belly was expanding quickly, advised me to see a GP urgently.

“I walked into the GP Surgery on 24th November 2015.  My GP examined me and thought I had Ovarian cysts. She arranged for me to have an ultrasound for the following morning at my local hospital.

“The next few weeks flew by with appointments, scans and a biopsy. Nine litres of fluid were removed but it quickly built up again and I was taken into hospital on New Year’s Eve in 2015 to have another eight litres drained. They then fitted a permanent drainage bag and at this point the word cancer had not been mentioned at all.

“In early January 2016, when all my results were back, myself and my husband were called to have a meeting with an Oncologist. There was also a nurse in the room who introduced herself as Tina. It was then I was told I’d been diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. Wow. My emotions were all over the place. Cancer? Really? How? Why? Ovarian Cancer? Why don’t I know about this? What are and were the symptoms? I don’t feel ill. What is stage 4? Am I going to die? No one in my family has had cancer. Are they sure? So many questions.”

Helen’s Oncologist explained the options available, including information about trials. Helen accepted a clinical trial for a new drug call Avastin, which had shown good results in other cancers, and also started chemotherapy in February 2016.

“I have so many funny stories from the chemo room. I did try to be good but things just went wrong. For example, in my first session, I sat next to a lovely old man who was receiving treatment for throat cancer.

“I needed the toilet, so I unplugged my chemo stand on wheels and off I went. People around me started shouting “stop”,” look!” and I was mortified to see I had unplugged the wrong stand and was bringing the elderly man with me! Gosh, he and his wife did laugh and all the nurses came running.

“After three chemotherapy sessions, I went to a hospital in London for a full hysterectomy. The surgeon who carried out the operation spotted that it had spread to my bowel and other areas, so I had a stoma fitted. In total my surgery was 9 hours. I still have the stoma bag today and know now that this can happen with ovarian cancer.

“After my surgery, when I was fit enough, I went back to chemo and Avastin. I was also offered a genetic test which proved to be positive for the BRCA 1 gene. The enabled my mum, siblings, and son to be tested to see if anyone else had the gene. That was the scariest time.”

Helen was advised by her Clinical Nurse Specialist to look up some Ovarian cancer online charity groups and after looking at a few websites, Helen decided Target Ovarian Cancer was best for her.

“Their website was what I was looking for. I could find information about research and trials, and there was a nurse on hand that you could phone. In lockdown, they did some fabulous zoom seminars with clinicians that covered so many topics on ovarian cancer. There was also an online chat group which was full of valuable information and helped me to meet some ladies locally that I now catch up with over coffee and cake.

“There were also things I could involve myself in to help raise awareness and, as a person who has ovaries but who didn’t know much about the disease before my diagnosis, that is what I chose to do.

“As part of one of Target Ovarian’s awareness campaigns, I was lucky enough and honoured to be invited to Westminster to speak in Parliament. I also joined in with Target Ovarian‘s annual awareness walk at the Olympic Park and had fabulous fun with some amazing people and families.

“My family and friends have also helped to raise awareness for the charity. My brother is a keen cyclist and managed to get a charity place for RideLondon, so he can proudly say he’s ridden the Olympic 2012 course twice now. My friend’s husband completed it too, which allowed him to tick off a bucket list challenge whilst raising much needed funds and awareness for the charity.”

A photo of Helen speaking at a Target Ovarian event.
Photo of Helen and her brother at a RideLondon event. Helen is wearing a t-shirt and has short blond hair. She is wearing sunglasses. Her brother is wearing a cycling top and helmet.
A photo of a Target Ovarian Cancer digital billboard which includes a picture of Helen. The billboard reads '11 women die every day from ovarian cancer. It's time to take ovar.

Helen is now in her sixth year of living with ovarian cancer and hopes to help people talk about their ovaries more freely.

“The thing with ovarian cancer is that it doesn’t care who you are. It was always thought of an ‘older ladies’ cancer but it really doesn’t care what age you are.

“If your ovaries work then you should know the symptoms: bloating, needing to wee more, difficulty eating a full meal, feeling full, persistent pelvic or abdominal pain. I also suffered with backache.

“I have been amazed by the lack of education on ovarian cancer, especially about cervical screening not detecting ovarian cysts of cancer. I think there is a lot of misinformation about this and it’s important to know that cervical screening does not detect ovarian cysts or cancer. It would be great if they included information about this, and the symptoms of ovarian cancer, when giving talks about puberty to people in older years at schools.

“I’m currently having my fourth cycle of chemotherapy. I’m incurable and on maintenance treatment, which is keeping the Cancer at bay. I also have regular scans which gives my peace of mind that I know what it’s up to.

New treatments and drugs are being developed and evolving all the time. Some will suit and some won’t, so we need to find the one that does. Walking and climbing the stairs affects me getting out of breath but I do everything in my own time.

I am getting on with my life, especially after Covid-19 put a halt to things I had wanted or planned to do. I’ve resumed going to the Theatre in the West End and enjoy watching touring bands and musicals in Hull and Grimsby. I now meet friends for brunch, and I’ve been on the back of my friend’s Harley Davidson, which I wanted to do.

Headshot photo of Helen and her husband. They are both looking at the camera and smiling.

I hate heights but was challenged to walk over the O2 with a friend. It took a while, and the guide put us at the back which was hilarious, but we did it.

I’ve also joined groups locally recommended by St Andrews Hospice and Macmillan and I’m really enjoying meeting the different characters. It’s not morbid as I thought and they are a positive bunch, like me. We chat about anything and have fun. We do have a moan too, but that’s life isn’t it.

So, I’m still living my life. I just carry extra baggage. My message to anyone with ovaries is this:

  • Know the symptoms and look out for each other. You are not alone.
  • Know your bodies and see your GP at the earliest opportunity if you think something isn’t right. I am only here because I followed my instinct.
  • GPs have had extra training on Ovarian Cancer and spotting signs and symptoms, but if you are not happy with their explanation or diagnosis, don’t give up! Keep going back and be persistent.
  • Ovarian Cancer is a tricky one and clever but like all cancers, early diagnosis is key for survival.

Smokers and former smokers asked to share their views in a survey commissioned by the Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership

By | Involvement Opportunities | No Comments

Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership are inviting current and former smokers, living across our region, to take part in a confidential survey designed to find out how they feel about smoking and the support available to quit.

The information gathered by the survey will be used to inform communications as Tobacco Dependence Treatment Services are launched in NHS Trusts in the coming year, to support Smokefree hospitals, in line with the long-term plan. The survey, which closes on Friday 20th May 2022,  takes just 5 minutes to complete and those who do it will be entered into a prize draw to win a £40 Love to Shop voucher.

If you’re a current or ex-smoker, you can take part in the survey here. Or, you can share the link with friends, family, patients and colleagues to help the Partnership gather the widest possible data set.

A social media campaign supporting the survey is running. You can help spread the word by sharing posts. Follow the Cancer Alliance on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Allyson is wearing a red coat and yellow bobble hat. It is a selfie photo which also includes a man standing in the background, smiling at the camera. They are both in an open field which has a mountain and water in the background.

Raising Awareness of Cancer: Allyson’s Story

By | Awareness and Early Diagnosis, Living with and Beyond Cancer | No Comments
The image shows Allyson with short hair and earrings. She is looking at the camera smiling. In the background their are company logos displayed on a white background.

Allyson lives in the East Riding of Yorkshire and began her career in the NHS at the age of 17. After retiring in 2018, Allyson noted that she had ‘never really been ill’ until she was diagnosed with breast cancer after attending a breast screening appointment in 2019.

Here you can read what happened after her diagnosis and how she is now helping to support others living with and beyond cancer:

“My breast cancer was identified during a breast screening appointment. Following my diagnosis, I underwent surgery and 15 sessions of radiotherapy.

“After finishing up treatment for breast cancer, I wanted to do something to raise money for Breast Cancer Now, so I applied to do The Moonwalk in London (walk 26.2 miles at night!).”

In December 2019, Allyson was training for the Moonwalk event and walking two miles a day but despite regular exercise, Allyson had started to notice that she was putting on weight around her stomach and in March 2020, she also started experiencing stomach pains.

“I spoke to my GP and one of my prescribed drugs, which prevented osteoporosis (a potential side effect of breast cancer) had recently changed from a branded product to the generic drug, so we thought this may be the cause. Since it was the start of the pandemic, seeing a GP for a stomach ache didn’t feel appropriate, but it only got worse over the next few weeks and by May 2020, I looked five months pregnant. I decided to contact my GP again and this time I was booked in for a face-to-face appointment.”

Allyson’s GP submitted a referral for an urgent scan however, two days later her symptoms had become worse so she returned to the GP and was admitted to hospital for a CT scan. Whilst in hospital, Allyson had six litres of fluid drained and five days later she was told that she had ovarian cancer.

“I was very weak and frightened. Following an MRI scan, it was decided I would have four sessions of chemotherapy and in September 2020 I underwent surgery.

“When I was diagnosed, I didn’t know the symptoms of ovarian cancer but I’d encourage women to familiarise themselves with B.E.A.T.

“As women, we tend to accept stomach pains and bloating but it’s important to understand what’s normal and speak to your doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms that don’t seem right.”

Coming to terms with a cancer diagnosis

“Receiving the ovarian cancer diagnosis was devastating for me and my family. It felt like being woken up in the middle of the night and thrown into the ocean without a life raft. I was so frightened and all I could think about was my death. I felt so alone.

“My husband became my carer and made sure I was eating and drinking properly. After a few months, I started to feel stronger physically and mentally and wanted to take back some control. I began looking at my diet and exercise, as well as investigating ways to manage my mental health.

“Women with ovarian cancer are three times more likely to develop mental health problems and I knew I was struggling. Thankfully, I found Ovacome, an ovarian cancer charity that supported me in my time of need.

“Through Ovacome, I met other women with a diagnosis who have since become dear friends that I couldn’t have managed without. I was a strong, independent woman when I was diagnosed with cancer for the second time, but it made me feel vulnerable, yet determined to do something to help myself and other women with a diagnosis.”

“I knew I needed to get fit for surgery and to help with the recovery after, so when I saw a challenge to run 60 miles for Cancer Research UK, I decided to try and walk it instead. I started to walk again, albeit slowly on some days following the chemotherapy. I was very weak, but feeling the weather on my face made me feel so much better.

“In the month prior to my surgery, I walked 70 miles. It wasn’t easy but I was determined to be as fit as I could be. In the month after surgery, I’m proud to say I walked 26 miles and have continued to walk every day since, whatever the weather.

“Walking has been my salvation. As I came to the end of my chemotherapy treatment, I set a goal of walking 1000 miles in 2021.

“When I realised I was walking a marathon a week, my goal changed to 52 marathons in 52 weeks. Sometimes I’d walk with my husband, other days alone, in silence, listening to the sound of each step like a sort of meditation.

Allyson is wearing a red coat and yellow bobble hat. It is a selfie photo which also includes a man standing in the background, smiling at the camera. They are both in an open field which has a mountain and water in the background.

“There were other times where I struggled, too, usually because of the ‘scan anxiety’ common among women like me. Slowly, I learned to face my fears. One day I loudly sang Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive while sobbing, which helped with my ‘I can do this!’ attitude. Luckily, we live in the countryside, so nobody saw me!

Walking together

“During one of my walks, at a time when I was receiving lots of messages of support from others, I came up with the idea of creating a virtual walking group for women with ovarian cancer. I got in touch with Ovacome, who had helped me previously, and we created the Walk With Me group.

Walk With Me is a friendly and supportive group that helps people with Ovarian to achieve their individual walking goals. The group connects virtually on WhatsApp to share friendship, encouragement, stories, and photos of the wonderful things they see on their walks. We also have a Strava club where people can share their routes and congratulate each other.

Allyson is stood in the snow with her arms out wide. She is holding walking sticks and dressed for cold weather.

“Walk With Me isn’t about the distance; it’s about supporting each other through ovarian cancer and sharing our experiences. With the support of the women in the group, I achieved my goal and walked 55.3 marathons in 52 weeks. That even included a few weeks with plantar fasciitis, but nothing was going to stop me!

“I now only do things that bring me joy every day and walking has become that for me, I face my fears as they arise, but know whilst cancer has changed me, it does not define me, but has been a real opportunity for change in my life for which I am grateful.”

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