A YouGov survey commissioned by Cancer Research UK has highlighted the stark realities of living with cancer. The survey asked 1,015 UK adults that had ever been diagnosed with cancer at some point about the changes their body went through while undergoing treatment and how they coped with them. It revealed that almost three in 10 cancer patients surveyed (29%) have experienced mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. The other biggest change mentioned was a change in energy levels with over 57% respondents experiencing this at some point. As many of you know only too well, these physical and emotional changes can have a direct impact on your daily life. 29% of respondents reported physical changes to their hair, nails or skin and it can create a vicious circle where the physical symptoms can greatly influence mental wellbeing. Concentrating on simple everyday tasks such as cooking or doing the housework can take a lot longer. It can also be difficult to sleep at night, which will then naturally decrease energy levels. The good news that does emerge from this survey is that in a majority of cases, people have felt well supported by their loved ones with only 6% of respondents reporting that cancer had had a negative impact on closest relationships.
Numbers and statistics are all very interesting, but as nothing can replace hearing from personal experience, I would like to invite you to watch this little video of two young Cancer Research UK supporters, Talia Mazzucchetto and Ethan Martin-Garcia, who give their views on the realities of living with cancer, and what brought them most comfort during their treatment:
I think many of you will agree with Ethan that “it’s the little things that really help you to push through”: the delicious food people bring you to hospital, or being given that perfect pair of slippers which mean the world to you and which you still wear even if they have got too small. All those small gestures of support that mean “we are in this together”, as in the example of Talia’s father who shaved his hair and wouldn’t let it grow back. This seems to tie with the findings from the YouGov survey which highlighted that being given flowers or chocolate – although nice gestures too – doesn’t come at the top of the list of what is most helpful to someone affected by cancer. Those “little things that really help you to push through” to use Ethan’s words don’t even need to cost money. It could be practical help with household chores, food shopping and meal preparation. It could also be items which are both thoughtful and practical – that one can either take to hospital or use at home, for example skin, body or hair products suitable after chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment.
If you are stuck for ideas and need inspiration, whether it is for yourself or a loved one, you might wish to have a look at our new Cancer Care range to get an idea of the kinds of little things that can make a difference in the life of someone affected by cancer. In light of these survey findings, I’d be curious to know whether you have been touched by special acts of kindness during and after cancer treatment and whether these manifested themselves in the shape of special gifts or simply as practical or emotional support? But also what sorts of products did you use yourself which made you feel better, whether it was to help cope with dry skin, brittle nails, thinning hair or any other discomfort?
We’d love to hear your stories and your own experiences of the realities of living with cancer.
Lucie, Cancer Chat Moderator