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Get cancer support from charities Something To Look Forward To and Shine Cancer Support

Life with Leukaemia: A family’s story of navigating the emotional, physical and financial challenges of living with blood cancer, by Amy Atkinson

Joel’s got his last block of chemotherapy in 2023 booked in for the end of this month. Once we are through that then we can start looking forward to enjoying half term with our family and Christmas.

We have started to dare to look forward. When Joel was first diagnosed with cancer his specialist nurses and consultants said not to look too far into the future, to focus on getting through the day and be present in the moment, otherwise the cancer journey will become too overwhelming.

Amy and Joel Atkinson are making the most of now!
Amy and Joel Atkinson are making the most of now!

The more that Joel’s health has improved, the greater his tolerance to the chemotherapy drugs has become, the more we have started to settle into a routine and dared to plan ahead. Cancer has given us a lust for life, an appreciation for all the little things and a desire to make the most of every moment.

With living life to the fullest in mind, I stumbled upon an amazing charity with an inspiring backstory. Something To Look Forward To is a Cambridge-based charity which donates experiences, meals out, holidays and much more to people who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Something To Look Forward To was founded in 2015 by Fiona Coldron and her husband Andy. Following Fiona’s breast cancer diagnosis, small treats such as a short break, a meal out, a stay in a hotel or a day out with the family gave them both something to look forward to, helping them to cope with the relentless slog of hospital visits, treatment and the emotional and physical demands of the illness.

The Something To Look Forward To team
The Something To Look Forward To team

Fiona’s drive to help other people in a similar situation saw the charity go from strength to strength, from providing a local, regional and now national service, helping those affected by cancer and their families at a time when it’s needed most.

They also wanted to help those affected financially by cancer when work has been disrupted because of their illness and when they are unable to help ease the pain of the cancer journey. This is known as cancer poverty.

Fiona sadly passed away in February 2021 and her daughter Francesca now spearheads the charity, continuing her mother’s legacy.

The charity’s latest #DonateSomePlates campaign has had lift off with support from TV and Michelin-starred chef Nick Beardshaw. Something To Look Forward To is asking restaurants and other hospitality businesses to donate meals to families affected by cancer. To donate to the campaign and to find out more about the charity, visit somethingtolookforwardto.org.uk.

The symptoms of blood cancer
The symptoms of blood cancer

With charities playing such an important part in making life alongside cancer easier to cope with, let me introduce you to Shine Cancer Support. This is a charity set up for people with a cancer diagnosis in their 20s, 30s or 40s.

Shine offers workshops, retreats and an annual conference as well as having support available 24/7 via its Facebook groups. See shinecancersupport.org to find out more.

Having cancer or supporting someone who has cancer is an emotional rollercoaster - you go through so many emotions daily. It is important to make space to feel everything and to know where to go when you’re reaching out for support.

As always, sending love and light to all those in the community whose lives are affected by cancer.

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