Chris is on hand to support people with cancer

Campbeltown's Chris Holden is offering support to cancer sufferers in Argyll and Bute.
Campbeltown's Chris Holden is offering support to cancer sufferers in Argyll and Bute.

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A new service providing advice, emotional and practical support to people who are affected by cancer has been launched in the Highlands and Argyll and Bute.

Macmillan Cancer Support has funded the £500,000 service which is being delivered in partnership with NHS Highland.

Each year around 2,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in the Highland area. An estimated 12,600 people are living after their cancer diagnosis whose quality of life may have been affected.

Eight support workers are now in place across the region and are available to connect with people affected by cancer and their families. And they’re already stepping up to help those struggling even more than normal because of the uncertainties that the current pandemic has caused.

Angeline Macleod, manager of the new service, said: ‘As a cancer nurse, I am very aware that cancer has a huge impact on many aspects of people’s lives, from money worries to mental health. Often people don’t know where to turn.

‘This new service is here to make sure everyone in the Highlands with cancer has someone to call on for help, no matter what they need.

‘This is especially important right now as many people with cancer will be isolated from friends and family.’

Anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer and lives in the Highlands can call the team to talk through their concerns. This may range from how to get more active and managing fatigue, through to loneliness and relationship issues.

The support worker can also signpost people to other colleagues and organisations that can help, from benefits advisors to counsellors.

The team is also helping people struggling with anxiety resulting from the pandemic, who are often referred to the service by cancer nurses.

Chrissie Lane, Macmillan Consultant Nurse, said: ‘We know from working with people who have had cancer in the Highlands that there is a great need to help provide support to people that goes beyond their clinical needs.

‘The cancer support workers are excellent at working alongside people and their families, listening to their worries and helping them live life to the full.’

Chris Holden, cancer support worker covering Argyll and Bute, said: ‘Having lived and worked in Argyll and Bute for a number of years, I see how vital this new service is. It’s a privilege to be available to people who have had a cancer diagnosis, and their loved ones. In this role, I can offer people time to listen, and ways to address problems they may be facing. It’s a very rewarding role.’

Macmillan Partnership manager for the north of Scotland, Jean Sargeant, said: ‘Having cancer at any time is extremely tough, but right now it’s increasingly difficult which means services are needed more than ever. We want to make sure no one faces cancer alone, funding services like these is a vital part of making a positive impact on the lives of people living with cancer.’

The cancer support workers have an open referral system, including self-referral. They can be contacted by phone or email. To get support from the new project, please contact Angeline Macleod, project manager, on 07866 146496.