Cancer Coaching Community

At last people who offer help with coaching can get together

Cancer Coaching Community

A big launch at London’s  Imperial College introduced Cancer Coaching community (CCC)

to an audience of Cancer Charities, Patients and carers, Research bodies, Commercial organisations, Coaching and HR organisations, Health professionals and clinician and journalists.

Main speaker at the launch event was Prof. Karol Sikora, aided by speakers whose agenda was a refreshing lack of commercialism, but who had a lot to say about supporting cancer patients. And that was the main underlying theme – how CCC is there to offer the support that survivors often need, but seldom get offered.

CCC is a newly founded community of professional in the UK, offering coaching to people affected by cancer; aiming to support them to ‘move forward from their cancer experience’.  What’s unique about this group is ALL coaches have direct or indirect cancer experience, with a wide knowledge and understanding about the impact of the disease.

What is meant by ‘coaching’?

It’s providing a holistic blend of coaching methodology and support, enabling individuals to deal successfully with the impact of cancer on their lives, and move forward from it in the way that is right for them.

Why is this new charity necessary?

Officials would have us believe that more people than ever are surviving after a cancer diagnosis, and the NHS has mucked around so much with cancer treatment they like to think they have sorted everything out.  But those of us who have gone through the system know this ain’t so.  Anyone who has wasted time in doing a Holistic Needs Assessment, with its patronising questions and statements, knows that the NHS has a long way to go before our cancer care is anywhere near what Europeans receive.

With one in two people in UK expected to get cancer, a lot needs to be done to improve survivorship; currently aftercare leaves many in limbo   One shocking fact came out at the meeting:  after a cancer experience 47% of us don’t get back to work.  We may aim for complete recovery, but reality leaves us facing many problems, not all of them medical.  This is where CCC can step in.

Jackie Arnold, one of the Founders, ably chaired and introduced Speakers, who all came out with new and more interesting facts.  The event highlighted the need for CCC’s type of support – something that is so lacking in the current system.  As Barbara Wilson, another Founder of Working with Cancer said – it can be difficult after treatment to get back to what was ‘normal’, and challenges after treatment were often worse than the treatment itself.

After her own experience of cancer,  she decided to support those affected by cancer to return to work in a way that is best for them.  Presenting: ‘CCC a major new initiative to help all those affected by cancer to manage their lives during and after treatment.’   She outlined benefits that the programme can give.   

Then Emily Hodge – An Ex NHS health professional who supports people to move forward after their cancer experience, told us ‘What inspired me to work with those impacted by cancer, how coaching impacts recovery of cancer and why my clients and I are excited about the CCC.’    She pointed out that it was usual to have feelings of anger or fear after cancer treatment,  and mentioned the fear we have that cancer will return.  So this was where coaching could help us to face these fears, and understand them.

 Vanda Ribeiro is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in secondary breast cancer at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.  She is is the kind of CNS I would have loved to have had, but sadly never did!  But the more she spoke, the more I warmed to her common sense understanding of what survivors go through.  Today, with all the cuts to NHS care, patients must be able to self-manage, and here coaching can obviously help.  Presenting: ‘Cancer experience – Living, adjusting, coping and moving forward with confidence’, she bought up a slide showing the Holistic Needs Assessment – but brushed through this – somehow the quick mention underlined how little impact this has on our genuine needs (but I found out it took the NHS five years just to come up with this!)  But she talked us through how important was good after-care, and how much everyone needed support – but all in different ways.   Listening to her made one realise that CCC understand we aren’t all the same, and ‘one size’ does NOT fit all when it comes to cancer aftercare – but we need coaches like Vanda to make sense of what is happening to us and our hodies once hospital support and treatment is supposed to have finished.
In 2009 Professor Sikora had launched Cancer Partners UK, Britain’s largest independent network of innovative cancer treatment centres, building on his experience as Chief of the World Health Organisation’s Cancer Programme between 1997 and 1999.    He talked about  ‘Living with Uncertainty’ with a lot of humour and understanding.  And was amusing but honest – saying “we don’t spend enough time with patients”;  but coaching could be the missing link in treatment.  He praised the work of Cancer Research UK, but said overall we didn’t do enough to help survivors.

Afterwards, the Q and A session produced much interest;  someone from Macmillan asked how to raise awareness of CCC’s work – personally I would have thought this was something Macmillan should be doing.  Isabel van der Ven, one of those involved with CCC, was asked what was happening abroad.  She mentioned that she had been treated in the Netherlands when she got cancer, and this had formed a model for their support.

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