A Northampton charity has received a £12,740 support grant from Macmillan Cancer Support to deliver a pioneering well being programme for women living with incurable secondary breast cancer.
The Living With Living Well pilot scheme will use the funding to deliver eight well-being programmes over a 12-month period, with the intention of shaping services for women with secondary breast cancer in the future.
The support grant, which is the largest awarded by Macmillan in the area, aims to directly benefit over 70 women living with secondary breast cancer and their relatives, by improving their quality of life and building a community where they can get support and share their experiences.
Jo Meftah and Leanne Byrne are both living with secondary breast cancer and have joined the Living With Living Well programme this year.
Jo, 53, from Northampton was diagnosed in 2012, she said: “When I was diagnosed, each day in my mind was a step closer to death, six years later, with nine grandchildren, four born after diagnosis, I’m still very much here.
"I’m so very thankful for every minute but it is not easy living under this cloud, there have been some very dark days.
"Living With Living Well is such a vital support, which has long been missing. Hopefully from today, ladies like myself will be given the opportunity not just to live with cancer but to live well with it and thrive by getting a much fuller support network, not only medically but physically and mindfully.”
The Living With Living Well project will comprise of eight six-week programmes that will be delivered by trained professionals from a lifestyle coaching company to empower women with secondary breast cancer to ‘reclaim, improve and maintain’ their emotional and physical wellbeing.
The sessions will focus on things like nutrition, movement relating to specific treatment, symptoms and side-effects, and improving mind-set to manage life with incurable cancer.
The grant will also fund ‘Theraplay,’ which is designed to help families manage difficult conversations and strengthen parent-child relationships through cancer treatment.
Leanne 31, from Wellingborough was diagnosed in 2017, she said: "It was a huge shock knowing that the cancer would never go away.
"My first thought was that I was going to die, and soon. I was told by others with little understanding that I may not be able to do things due to my diagnosis.
"But you can live with cancer, and continue to do the things that you want to do. Twelve months on and alongside the treatment that is currently keeping the cancer at bay, I am studying for a professional qualification in social work.”
Secondary breast cancer happens when cancer cells spread from the cancer in the breast to other parts of the body, most commonly the bones, brain, lung, or liver.
It is usually treatable, but not curable and some women might experience a range of side-effects from living with secondary breast cancer and its treatment.
Leanne added: “This is what attracted me to the Living With Living Well programme. A group of ladies living with a secondary diagnosis, wanting to reclaim who they are and to be the best version of themselves, with help and support from each other.
"Living With Living Well will enable us all to believe in ourselves again, and to reclaim, improve and maintain our wellbeing.
"To be able to share this experience with others in a similar situation, who know what it is like to live with secondary cancer, is invaluable.”
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Facebook page @LivingwithSBC to join the sessions.