A THERPEAUTIC counsellor at Northfield’s Royal Orthopedic Hospital (ROH) has been treating the rare case case of woman with two types of cancer – and said it’s not just the physical impact patients have to face.
Carol Hughes, a Macmillan counsellor at the Onclogy Service at ROH, said it was important to factor the psychological effects of cancer.
Carol said clinical nurse specialists will first identify individuals who could benefit from counselling before referring them to her.
She said: “The first thing I do is listen to the patient’s story and we discuss what they would like to get out of our sessions.
“If they decide it’s the right thing for them, we may then work on techniques such as relaxation and mindfulness meditation to help improve their psychological well-being.”
She added: ‘Surviving difficult and traumatic cancer treatments can be like reaching solid ground after surviving a shipwreck. Only when you reach the island and feel safe can you turn around and really look at what you’ve been through.”
Sonia, 69, had help from Carol after she was diagnosed with two unrelated cancers.
She said: “When I first started with Carol I was crying most of the time because I felt so ill from the chemotherapy. But she always knew the right thing to say, I can’t have more praise for her.
“I found Carol’s shipwreck analogy particularly helpful – you’re looking back at all the treatments and surgeries, but you just got to let them go.”
She added: “When we spoke, we’d have a chat about my feelings, my fears and she’d reassure me and would do mindfulness over the phone. She’d speak to me for about an hour every week.”
Carol’s role also works with organisations to provide support to staff and colleagues working with cancer patients.
She said: “My role sometimes involves patient advocacy when patients wish me to contact workplaces or schools and advise on how best to support the patient themselves, and sometimes to support staff who become distressed.”
To Carol, the most rewarding part of her role is knowing she’s made a difference to someone at an incredibly difficult time in their lives.
For support or information visit www.macmillan.org.uk or call Macmillan free between Monday and Friday, 9am to 8pm on 0808 808 0000.