Beatson Cancer Charity has received most welcome news that it is has secured a National Lottery award, worth £269,800 from The National Lottery Community Fund allowing hundreds more patients with cancer to receive life-transforming psychological and emotional support.
The charity is in receipt of its first-ever national lottery award, generated by lottery players. It guarantees 3-years for a ‘Living with Uncertainty’ project which will widen out and extend the existing Fear of Recurrence programme and introduce new, additional workshops on Living with Uncertainty.
Working in partnership with NHS colleagues and Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, the programme will help participants face the challenges of life after cancer treatment.
Distress associated with a cancer diagnosis and its recurrence has a significant impact on many lives in Scotland and for many patients, feel it is more debilitating than the disease itself.
The Fear of Recurrence pilot project first ran in 2017 and focused on breast cancer patients. It has been hugely successful in demonstrating significant results for ladies completing the 6-week course. The programme is based on acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), a psychology approach designed to designed to help individuals achieve meaningful behaviour change. Within the programme this approach is used to help cancer patients develop practical and psychological coping techniques for managing the ‘what if’ fears and anxieties that commonly occur after treatment.
Participants are supported to explore their fears and through the development of coping skills and self-management techniques find ways to keep their anxieties at a realistic controlled and manageable level. This stops anxiety taking over their lives and helps build their confidence to focus on living their life fully.
The lottery award will ensure the Beatson Cancer Charity can ensure the continued delivery of the Fear of Recurrence workshops and open them up to all other cancer types. In addition, this award with additional funding from the Sir Hugh Fraser foundation will also allow the charity to develop and deliver a new Living with Uncertainty course targeted at patients who have less predictable prognosis or are living with cancer long term. This will adopt the same ACT approach to help participants cope with their uncertain future.
This year, more than ever, Beatson Cancer Charity understands the needs of patients who have suffered with increased levels of anxiety given the changes with medical appointments due to COVID-10 global pandemic.
Former patient and participant, Susan McGoldrick, 56, from Lenzie in East Dunbartonshire completed the Recurrence programme only last month following breast cancer diagnosis. Susan was uplifted from the experience and would like more patients to be better informed and offered access to this programme.
“This has made a huge difference to me. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I joined and with the programme only being six weeks long and virtual due to COVID-19 restrictions, I wasn’t sure what I would achieve. But I have to say it has been a revelation and I feel like a brand, new woman. I have learned so much and feel transformed and it has even inspired me to make recent radical changes in my life. I would like to encourage many more patients to attend if they can.”
Martin Cawley, CEO of Beatson Cancer Charity added, “We are delighted at the award of this very important grant. The medical treatment process for cancer is difficult enough for people to cope with, but when you add the psychological impact on top, it is especially challenging.”
“Even when people have successfully been through their treatment programmes there is always an underlying worry that the cancer will reoccur. This project supports people to develop their own coping skills, this in turn strengthens their resilience and recovery even further.”
“This grant will help greatly as part of the cancer journey and allow many more patients to become involved over next three years. Everyone at Beatson Cancer Charity is absolutely thrilled and we are here to support. Thank you to the national lottery players without whom this grant would not be possible.”
This year’s shortlist includes 154 organisations with an array of valuable projects. Visit the website to find out more about the project which has received interest from leading cancer hospitals both here in UK and internationally.
Fiona Sinclair, Beatson Cancer Charity Advanced Clinical Practitioner and Therapeutic Radiographer, spoke of her happiness following the funding announcement, saying, “I can’t wait to see this work flourish. We have gained lots of interest from other cancer hospitals as nowhere else seems to offer this type of intervention. I am delighted that we can reach out to more patients as I have seen the impact and change this has brought to people’s lives.”
In order to comply with social distancing, this year the Fear of Recurrence programme has had to adapt, and support groups are now taking place online through videoconferencing. Feedback has remained glowing. Referrals are accepted from any professional supporting a person at the end of treatment, including Primary and Secondary Care, 3rd Sector and self-referral.
Dr Esther Murray, Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre says, this is now needed more than ever, adding; “This is extremely exciting and welcome news. Fear of recurrence is one of the more common worries for people recovering from a diagnosis and treatment for cancer and can significantly impact on people's quality of life as they recover. The extension of this project to all tumour sites and to include a group for those with a more uncertain prognosis is more crucial than ever allowing the development and extension of the work carried out to date. Current COVID-19 related restrictions have only placed further anxiety and reduced access to normal social support making this work more important than ever. I look forward to working with the project team as things develop.”
Dr David Gillanders, Head of Clinical Psychology, University of Edinburgh acknowledges the research behind this, by adding, “Fear that cancer will come back is one of the most frequently reported concerns in women who have had breast cancer and it can be very distressing. The unique aspect of our approach is that we acknowledge those thoughts and fears as being common and understandable. Rather than try to get rid of these fears, the programme teaches skills in how to live a meaningful and valued life after breast cancer.”
“Thoughts and fears are acknowledged and accepted, but not allowed to get in the way of living well. Our initial research is currently being written up for publication, and we found that the group was acceptable to women, with over 80% of women completing all six sessions. Participation in the group programme led to significant improvements in quality of life, as well as reduced anxiety and depression. Paradoxically, even though the group doesn’t try to get rid of worries about cancer coming back, these did also reduce. All of these improvements were maintained for up to six months after the group ended, showing that the improvements are stable."
The National Lottery Community Fund, Scotland Chair, Kate Still: said: “In these uncertain times our priority is to ensure that National Lottery money continues to flow to charities, voluntary sector organisations and grassroots groups. I would like to congratulate Beatson Cancer Charity on their award, theirs is an important project and will support people now and in the future when they can physically come back together to make great things happen in their community.”
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