Chemotherapy and radiotherapy leave patients exhausted, overwhelmed and sick, while endless hospital appointments often leave them feeling as if they have lost control of their lives.
And the emotional impact of cancer is also felt not just by the patient, but also by their families and friends.
Which is where the team at Penny Brohn UK come in. The charity offers support and guidance to anyone undergoing, about to start or recovering from cancer treatment.
They provide workshops in acupuncture, meditation, nutrition and gentle exercise, all designed to improve a patient’s wellbeing at the most testing of times.
The charity's weekly Treatment Support Clinics, and monthly Introduction Days at their HQ in Bristol, also allow patients and their loved ones the chance to talk to others going through a similar experience as well as chat to expert nurses and doctors who can offer help and advice on how to cope with cancer treatment.
Steve Shergold, 59, from Bristol attended an Introduction Day before starting a four and a half month course of chemotherapy for prostate cancer. He said: “I went to an Introduction Day with my wife and the information helped me to make changes to my lifestyle to help me through chemotherapy.
“I changed my diet and began meditating twice a day, using the techniques I learned on the course. I incorporated these changes into my lifestyle and tried to make it fun.
“I was devastated to be diagnosed with cancer but Penny Brohn UK has helped me reframe.
I can’t change my diagnosis but I have learnt to turn it on its head. When I was in hospital I felt out of control and that decisions about my care was being made behind closed doors.
“Penny Brohn UK made me feel like a person again and helped me take back control of my life.”
Dr Catherine Zollman is the charity’s medical director. She said: “Cancer can be overwhelming, but many small things can add up to make a big difference to the way people cope as they prepare for, undergo or recover from treatment.
“Our Introduction Day and Treatment Support Clinic help empower people to reclaim control of their lives, build their resilience and discover the joy of living. People can find that they can get through treatment feeling much better than they feared.”
Penny Brohn UK need donations, fundraising and volunteers, find out more at pennybrohn.org.uk.
By Jenna Sloan