Of course bad health never takes any time off and although many of us have been isolated in a ‘Christmas bubble,’ others have been dealing with their issues. Time away from your regular work is a thing we all need, but the problems don’t go away, and over the festive period, can in fact be exaggerated. My neighbour’s Mum died on Christmas Day, so they not only had the emotional issues but the practical ones too. Finding the right services over Christmas can certainly be challenging.
My phone and email have been extremely busy since New Year, and some of the messages we have received through our Your simPal service have brought me to tears. Firstly to be told how we helped so many people over the Christmas period, then to see how word has spread so quickly and the applications are coming in thick and fast for 2017. Each one with a story of how cancer has dramatically changed their life, and how they are being impacted by cancer poverty. Even in such a short time we have made a difference to so many lives, which makes us very happy of course, but what I am seeing at first hand is this problem getting worse. We are delighted to do what we can but there can be a large element of frustration involved because there is always more that needs doing.
This week I went to visit a great friend of mine who is very sick. He is on his last option of chemotherapy, if this doesn’t work it will then be palliative care. We spent an hour laughing and joking, recalling better times and funny moments. It was a great release for all of us and especially his wonderful wife, who has had to give up work to look after him. These are the realities of cancer, the things that don’t get talked about too much! Nobody can just afford to give up work with no financial implications. For caring for her husband she receives the princely sum of £69 pw allowance.
Up and down the country I am seeing these issues daily, with very little practical help available. The odd grants here and there, from cancer charities which may make a small difference if you are eligible to claim them at all? All purely token gestures, with no longer term plan in place.
Last night I was speaking with two personal friends of mine who are reconstructive surgeons. They give up much of their holiday to go to India and Pakistan to help with patients there. Doing incredible surgery to help people who would otherwise never receive it. They also felt frustrated that the work they were doing was only a drop in the ocean of what was required. But they managed to get over the frustration with the quality of life they were able to give the few people they could affect.
This is exactly how I feel currently. Frustrated at the amount of work that needs doing to help these people, and such little resource that is available. Of course there is always an issue about finance, but the main one is human compassion. Just because we can’t give money, it doesn’t mean we have nothing to give! In many cases time is the most important thing we have and I find that people value you by how much time you give to them. In fact we can see many examples of where money has just been thrown at problems and we are worse off. The N.H.S being a prime candidate. In a supposedly caring profession there is very little shown from the top of the industry. Caring involves spending time with people, and apparently we can’t afford to do that anymore?
There are many people employed in the health sector across the globe, it is a multi billion dollar business. But what we are seeing within the current set up is that we are not really making a dent in what we actually require. Of course, we have improved things and this will continue in the future, however giving everything may still never be enough.
Yes, we do get frustrated but we think back only a year, when our service did not even exist. Every person we are able to help is a massive bonus. I know many of my friends who also run smaller organisations believe that too. We see and hear the difference we are making to lives and that is what feeds us, to scale up the work we do.
My work is growing quickly now as we are getting publicity from many channels, and I know that this is the time I need to be very calculated with the decisions I make. There are many projects where I know I can make an impact, but just do not have the time to give. More importantly I am less physically able to do some of the things I need to, so I have to work a lot smarter now. Doing more things from home with less travelling is one way I can achieve that.
I am incredibly lucky to be involved in something that gets me out of bed in the morning with the enthusiasm of a teenager. Helping people has become my most effective drug!! Finding a way of dealing with the frustration is the tricky part, but I can see it is something that most of us have to do. How do you see the world of cancer support going, as we deal with the increasing complexities within ‘survivorship’?