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University of 3rd AgeUniversity of the Third Age

Cancer from Both Sides

Monday, 5 November 2012

Probably few of the members of Todmorden U3A expected a talk on cancer to be vibrant and uplifting but this was what they got from Kate Hayward at their October general meeting.

Kate is a Clinical Nurse Specialist - Biological Therapy at St James Institute of Oncology, Leeds Cancer Centre and was introduced by U3A member David Gray. David had a particular reason for doing so, as his late wife was treated there and he could not speak highly enough of the quality of the care and support that she received from all the members of staff.

Kate has experienced cancer from all sides, since friends and family members have had cancer and she herself switched from carer to patient when she had breast cancer. Among suffers, Kate explained, guilt is a common problem around the distress it causes family and friends. After recovery, cancer patients and their families may have to deal with depression, irritability, dissatisfaction with body image - the gaining of weight is common - as well as scarring and deformity. And there is often the fear of recurrence, leading to the inability to make plans for the future.

The impact can be wider if work is affected leading to loss of income, and relationships sometimes breakdown in the aftermath of cancer. Unsurprisingly, after recovery people can respond in very different ways. Some enjoy life more, whilst others never get back to "normal"; some become cautious, others more adventurous.

Kate demolished some myths about cancer: only old people get it; only smokers get lung cancer; you always die from cancer; you always lose your hair, lose weight; you always have to be in hospital when in fact, out-patient treatment is more common. Chemo- and radiotherapies are not effective for all cancers and sometimes surgery can remove the malignancy with no other treatment. There can be delayed effects from treatment: heart problems; osteoporosis and pain or the loss of physical feeling. Discomfort or lack of mobility can also occur.

Early diagnosis enhances the possibility of cure, and Kate went on to relate how some have dealt with scarring and breast removal with tattoos, illustrating the point with slides. As well as ornate breast designs, Kate told the woman who had the dots on her arm which are tattooed on patients to mark out the target areas for radiotherapy. Seeing these dots were an unwelcome reminder of her cancer so she had them elaborated into a flower. Recoverers also sometimes resort to tattooed eyebrows and hairlines.

Many people find they can live with cancer and Kate has written two books, one with colleagues: Cancer Survivorship: Helping patients to accept a new way of living. Available as an e-book. The other, which was published first, from a journal she kept when she had cancer is: From Oncology Nursing to Coping with Breast Cancer; published by Radcliffe Publishing.

Kate finished her talk by encouraging anyone affected by cancer to look outside the NHS to organisations such as Macmillan; The Robert Ogden Centre; The Haven in Leeds and Look Good - Feel better on wwwlgfb.co.uk She urged her audience to always tell the truth to your doctor if something is bothering you. Very often the area of concern is not the disease site. Kate's talk was in no way as dour as this report may read and was much appreciated by her audience.


The University of the Third Age meets at 1.45 at Central Methodists in Todmorden on the third Thursday of every month - find out about all of its activities at www.u3atod.org.uk

Many thanks to John Bouttell for this report


Previous U3A reports on the HebWeb

HebWeb News: Steve Halliwell outlined the history of the Woodland Trust (Sept 2012)

HebWeb News: Ray Riches talks on Walking the Pacific Crest Trail (Aug 2012)

HebWeb News: Pitch and Pythagoras - Pulse and Prison (July 2012)

HebWeb News - Lord Shutt explains the workings of the House of Lords (May 2012)

HebWeb News - Claire Benedict talks acting to Todmorden U3A (April 2012)

HebWeb News - Kate Moreton-Deakin spoke about her day job as Associate Director - Corporate Social Responsibility with Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust. (Feb 2012)

HebWeb News - Fair Trade Movement (Feb 2012)

HebWeb News - Fancy a cruise to the Antarctic? (Feb 2012)

HebWeb News - Gail Allaby, U3A's Queen of the Underworld (Dec 2011)

HebWeb News - September meeting report - Report of meeting about Walking the Pacific Crest Trail

HebWeb News - August meeting report - Bolton Abbey

HebWeb News - May and June meeting report - Keep Learning: Live long and prosper and the role of the Lord-Lieutenant

HebWeb News - April meeting report - Belt and Braces - An Everyday Guide to Risk and Chance

HebWeb News - March meeting report - Growing Old in the Twenty-First Century

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