Pamela Harrower was just 35-years-old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Following treatment, the weight of it “hit her like a ton of bricks”.
Thankfully, Macmillan Fife supported her and her family as they tried to piece their lives back together.
At a recent meeting of the Fife Integrated Joint Board (IJB), Mrs Harrower shared her story with health care professionals and councillors, explaining how the charity helped after she went into remission.
She said: “I went through all my treatment before I called Macmillan.
“The minute I finished, it just all hit me like a ton of bricks. Cancer changed my life, but this service changed how I was able to move forward again.
“Money worries, fitness worries, they all improved.
“I adore Sharon – she’s not just an advisor, she’s a true friend.”
Sharon Breeze works as the local area co-ordinator for Fife Macmillan for the ‘Improving the Cancer Journey’ programme, helping the charity to engage with more than 600 people.
Jacquie Stringer, service manager for Fife Health and Social Care, told the IJB the service was only funded until August 2021, having already been operational for a full year.
She explained: “We hope this service will continue to be of benefit, and that eventually it will be an opt-out service.
“Right now, not everyone gets a letter, inviting them along, there are exclusion criteria.
“Our long term outcome would be to build enough evidence that shows this counselling service could be beneficial with other long term illnesses.”
Councillor David Graham praised the service, telling the board: “I lost my wife to cancer and it was a very traumatic time for my family.
“Nothing prepares you for that. Loved ones have to look on as the person struggles to manage.
“As we develop this service, how will it support the families? We can’t underestimate how big a role they play.”
Ms Stringer said the service was unique as it offered help for the entire family, adding: “Close friends can access the service – anyone who is affected by the cancer. We make that quite clear.”
Mrs Harrower added: “My husband and kids were very well supported through the service. As a whole family, we think a lot of this service.”
Margaret Wells, a non-executive board member, said: “What a difference it makes for us to be able to hear how this service has directly affected your life.
“It really makes a difference when it comes to making decisions.”
Morna Fleming, carer representative, thanked the team for coming along, adding: “This is a clearly promising service and we look forward to how it’s progressing.”
The Improving Cancer Journey Service helps people affected by cancer to get the support they need, whether it’s financial, emotional, medical or practical.
To get in touch with the service or to find out more call 01592 578076 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.