Here for you… in challenging times

Each anniversary I have with Cancer Support Scotland, I jot down some reflections on the year just past and hopes for the future and this year is no different.

Today marks four years since I joined the charity and took on my first CEO role. It’s been a remarkable journey with a lot of change, some lows, and many highs.  

It’s been another year of great success for the charity as we continue to build back after the pandemic. We have, like many charities struggled to ensure we can bring in vital funds however continued to innovate.

Current state of Cancer Support services

One in two of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime. This is a fact that terrifies me. As much needs to happen to ensure Scotland’s cancer services are the very best, they can be to meet the challenges.

Cancer Support Scotland continues to play a vital role in improving the wellbeing of those affected by cancer. We have seen the strain put on the NHS due to lack of investment and the global pandemic. This has resulted in some delays in diagnosis and increasing pressure on our colleagues within the NHS. This in turn breeds poor mental health for those trying to live well with a cancer diagnosis.   

With over 30,395 cancers diagnosed in 2020 (2021 data not published at time of this blog) it is vital all our efforts go into supporting a holistic health care provision. This includes cancer prevention, early diagnosis, world leading treatment and a fully resourced wellbeing support service. The Scottish Government have a once in a generation opportunity to launch ambitious plans to deliver this through the upcoming cancer strategy. We, like many charities have been working hard to ensure this strategy is ambitious and has the actions to meet the challenges of the next generation. I remain hopeful that they will provide ambitious plans for a fully funded holistic health care provision with wellbeing at the very heart.  

Our work

We understand the impact cancer has on the lives of many people; therefore, we offer free to access, to tailored services through our digital methods and by slowly introducing our outreach centres.   

We have continued to innovate during this year, with the introduction of our accredited Oncology Massage Course, delivered by our award-winning complementary therapist. We have also introduced an aromatherapy nasal inhaler. Both providing real relief and support to the wellbeing of those affected by cancer.   

During 2023 we will continue, subject to funding, to put our efforts into opening the rest of our face-to-face services. It’s been an absolute joy seeing people over the past six months access our services… although if I am being honest, the in-person connections have been the most impactful for me. It’s been truly wonderful experiencing the groups; Knit and Natter on a Tuesday, Heads up Scotland on a Thursday, and Coping with Change on a Thursday evening & Saturday morning utilising the Calman Centre. 

The whole team at Cancer Support Scotland have worked exceptionally hard to safely reopen our face-to-face services. Some highlights of 2022 in numbers:  

  • 93 complementary therapy sessions took place, helping those with cancer to reduce the impact of treatment on their body 
  • 109 people have secured an aromatherapy inhaler helping to reduce stress, sleeplessness and anxiety 
  • 344 coping with change sessions have been delivered, providing people with the self-management tools to live well with cancer  
  • 1951 digital and face to face counselling sessions have been provided, resulting in improved wellbeing. 68% reporting a low wellbeing score before their first session to over 62% reporting high wellbeing after counselling. 
  • 969 befriending sessions took place, helping to reduce the impact of loneliness and isolation  

Looking to 2023

I am not going to predict how next year will be in post-similar to 2020. But what I do know is the need for Cancer Support Scotland’s services has never been needed more. We have a truly remarkable team and I know everyone will continue to do all they can.

 As a leader of a charity, I have a responsibility to facilitate, inspire and motivate my team. If the last few years have taught me anything it’s that if I don’t look after my own wellbeing, how on earth am I meant to carry out my responsibilities. I have set myself four challenges for 2023: continue to do the right thing, support my team to be the best they can be, make more time for myself and finally deliver more acts of kindness. 

Finally, this Christmas we are highlighting the experience of Karen. Karen is someone who has used our wellbeing services during her darkest hours. If you can please read Karen’s story and if you are able, consider contributing, big or small, to our work.  

Get in touch