Madeleine Coyle from Prehen in Derry is supporting Macmillan’s campaign for a Cancer Strategy for Northern Ireland.
When I was admitted to Altnagelvin Area Hospital in January 2013, suffering from pneumonia, little did I know that I had developed lung cancer. Tests revealed that the disease was at an early stage. I had to undergo surgery but was told I wouldn’t need follow-up chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
I was lucky.
During the course of my treatment, I received help from the Macmillan/North West Advice Service and their team of benefits advisors based in the Sperrin Unit within Altnagelvin Hospital. Lisa, one of their advisers, sent me details of the different welfare payments I could claim and even helped me fill out all the forms.
I never expected to get help with benefit claim forms. I didn’t know the service existed. That’s why it’s so important to have support services in hospitals but you do need access to information and support in your local area too.
That’s why I’m supporting Macmillan’s ‘Time to Deliver’ campaign for a cancer strategy for Northern Ireland. England, Scotland and Wales already have cancer plans in place which cover prevention, diagnosis, treatment, recovery and palliative and end of life care – all the stages of the cancer journey.
With more and more of us being diagnosed with cancer and living longer with the disease and the long term consequences of treatment, we need to ensure that any cancer strategy for Northern Ireland addresses the needs of people living with cancer after their treatment has ended.
You can support the campaign too. Just use Macmillan’s email template to contact the Health Minister to say you want to see cancer care become a priority in the new Programme for Government.