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Issue:- Thursday, 13 October 2016

Headlines and reports on this page = 2 news items.    Page - 5.

Volunteers asked to become buddies to cancer patients

RESEARCHERS are looking for people with experience of living with cancer to act as mentors to patients at an advanced stage of the disease. From sharing practical tips on how to deal with the side effects of treatment, to being a great listener on the other end of the phone, the research team are seeking volunteers via The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust in Merseyside.  The experiences of the buddies and patients will form part of an innovative study looking at the benefits of having a mentor while living with cancer. It follows on from earlier research where people suggested that being able to talk to someone who had similar experience might be helpful.

Lauren McFerran, 22, received radiotherapy at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre after surgery for skin cancer which resulted in her losing her ear. She thinks the study is a way for patients to use their diagnosis in a positive way to help others in a similar position.  Lauren, from Wallasey, said:- "Nothing quite prepares you for the diagnosis, and no matter how supportive your family and friends are, they can't quite understand just how it feels as it affects them differently. Having someone available for a coffee or a phone call who knows exactly what you're going through would be a wonderful comfort, just to be supportive, or to offer practical tips would be fantastic. A cancer diagnosis can feel very lonely, and a buddy in those early days could take that away, leaving you with one less worry at the end of the day."

Buddies must have received their cancer diagnosis more than 6 months ago. They will be fully trained and will be matched with a suitable patient.  A 24 hour helpline will be available for both, and expenses will be covered for attending training sessions and during the 12 weeks spent being a mentor to the patient.  The patients will all have stage 3 or 4 cancer.

The research team will use the knowledge they gain to inform the approach to helping people with the psychological effects of cancer in the future. The study is being run from the Universities of Manchester and Lancaster, working with The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, The Christie Foundation Trust in Manchester and the Universities of Liverpool and Southampton. The researchers are also seeking volunteers via The Christie.  Anyone who is interested in applying to be a volunteer buddy should contact Dr Diane Roberts at University of Manchester by calling:- 0161 306 7786 or send an email.

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