Cancer champions help scoop £50,000 prize
WHEN hearing the word cancer many of us assume the worst – except for an award-winning group of volunteers who are part of the Care Plus cancer collaborative programme. They strive to constantly raise awareness of the different signs and symptoms to look out for so people are able to spot and beat their conditions quicker. Health reporter Katie Blackburn finds out more.
VOLUNTEERS have helped scoop an award worth thousands of pounds to ensure more people are being treated quickly for cancer.
This area's Care Plus Group's Cancer Collaborative programme has received £50,000 through the NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes, run by the Department of Health.
It will go towards supporting the programme's work to raise awareness across North East Lincolnshire of the signs and symptoms of cancer and encourage people to seek advice early.
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The number of cancer champions – those who volunteer – has continued to increase since the programme started five years ago and now 38 selfless people give their time to the cause.
Pamela Tombs, of Grimsby, has been a cancer champion for the past two months.
Last year she was diagnosed with bowel cancer and after chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, she is glad to be in the clear.
The 71-year-old said: "I am lucky to be a alive today and not to have a colostomy bag fitted after part of my bowel was removed.
"When I was diagnosed I automatically thought the worst but I now know cancer does not mean the end.
"I want others to realise this so they are not scared of being checked out by the doctor.
"Most cancers are curable if caught early and this is what I now promote and raise awareness of."
Cancer champions all have a certain area of the body to which they focus their awareness on. In Pamela's case it is cancer of the prostate and bowel, but others are trained to give awareness of:
Bowel cancer and its screening programme
Cervical cancer and its screening programme
Breast cancer screening programme
The volunteers can only give out factual information; they are not medically trained to give advice on any treatment.
Paul Haddock, 53, of Grimsby, raises awareness of lung cancer.
Many of his relatives have died from different tumours, but thankfully he has never suffered from cancer himself.
For Paul, volunteering as a cancer champion makes him feel as though he is doing something worthwhile.
He said: "I believe everyone should do some kind of volunteering in their community.
"Without volunteers a service like this would not exist and people would not be benefiting from it.
"I really enjoy what I do, it is not hard and you are given training beforehand.
"I am really pleased to say the work I do has contributed to the service receiving national recognition."
For 78-year-old Eileen Clark, the majority of her life has been spent helping others – even now, after retirement.
The former nurse, who began her caring profession at the age of 16 in the cadets, has been part of the Cancer Collaborative team since it began five years ago.
Focusing on raising awareness of cervical and ovarian cancer, she said: "Woman generally seem afraid to take up their smear tests for fear of the unknown.
"What we say is if it turns out to be cancer then at least treatment can begin quickly to give yourself a better chance of survival.
"If the test comes back clear of cancer then your mind is free from worry.
"Either way the smear tests are vital to have.
"When out and about, we offer reassurance to women and if in doubt tell them to seek medical advice from their GP.
"I love my work, caring for others is second nature to me and I do not think I could ever give that up."