Visitors queued to get in
For the first time in Britain, Cancer patients and carers had a complete event which was designed by them for them.
Cancer patients often complain that they are ignored – abandoned; no-one pays attention what they want to know. But at the Kensington and Chelsea Cancer Wellbeing LINk event, patients and carers were going around with smiles on their faces. At last they could find help with the ‘small’, often overLooked problems they face day-to-day. Here they could ask questions and be given informed advice on rough skin, nausea, applying for benefits, travel insurance, etc.
Venue was packed
It is certain that everyone who was laughing their heads off at his delivery, will remember his talk!
After there was a marvellous demonstration of African Dance, then Elizabeth Crisp gave a factual and very interesting talk – this time about Easophageal cancer. and Suresh Rambaran talked about Prostate Cancer. Both talks demonstrated what the event was about – telling it like it is so that we all know what to look for.
The Organic Pharmacy had another packed audience for their talk, with numerous questions from members – who then stayed on for the Cook and Taste demonstration; and many of us came away with recipe books handed out giving details of easy ways of eating healthily.
Below, this was the Hall just before Mark Davies started his talk – and I can assure you those two seats were filled – and more – with over 200 people. Are you in there?
Meanwhile, downstairs those queuing to get in almost couldn’t get in, there were so many people waiting. But eventually everyone fitted in, and the event was buzzing.
When the Mayor, Councillor Julie Mills, arrived, she was soon asking questions of Macmillan, who were the major sponsors of the event and had come primed with helpful leaflets – then she moved on to meet Les Girls at the Europa Donna table. This is a European-wide charity that gets patients together with major surgeons and oncologists. If anyone is interested in what is happening elsewhere, they have members in 44 countries. Their meetings are a fascinating mix where we patients can genuinely quizz top medics, and get answers, and anyone interested can not only become a member for a small sum, but patients are treated equally with medical professionals.
Next door was Breast Cancer Care, who, as usual were inundated with enquiries, and next to Age Concern, Citizens Advice Bureau and Nucleus – all agencies who were ably fielding so many enquiries about the new regulations for benefits.
Companies had come laden down with free samples. Flexitol makes Heel Balm (which cancer patients can get FREE on prescription) and there were plenty of visitors wanting samples, along with their Lip Balm, Nail Revitaliser Gel and other goodies.
Those carers looking after bed-bound people were crowding round the Synergy stand, whose Sharon King said “As a supplier to the NHS and healthcare at home market, the Kensington and Chelsea Cancer Wellbeing Event was a superb opportunity to meet with many different customers and better understand their needs. We were able to demonstrate our innovative Oasis Bed Bath System, comprising of wipes and shampoo caps. This attracted lots of interest from cancer sufferers and their families, as well as healthcare professionals, who could see the advantages of a quick and comfortable single-step bed bath, without the soap and water”.
Literally by popular demand, Krish Shastri was there from InsureCancer. At a planning meeting the committee were asked whom to invite, and unanimously said “someone who can tell us about fair medical travel insurance”. It is difficult to find a company that covers all the possibilities, but Krish even works out how long it takes to transfer a casualty to the nearest hospital – and advises against some popular venues as hospitals may not be up to scratch.
Another support centre answering loads of questions was Paul’s Cancer Support Centre; probably the oldest in Britain. There Petra, Beverley and Dani were inundated with questions, particularly about The Healing Journey programme. Next door was Barrie ably answering questions about Rarer Cancers, and incidentally taking photographs – those you see on these pages were his.
Meanwhile at the back of the hall was a quiet, calm oasis with therapists giving mini-tasters of therapies, including massages. We had wanted to have a bigger section, which would certainly have been warranted for all the interest there was – but maybe next time!
I did have time for a quick chat with Liz Kirpatrick and Faye in the Nailtiques boutique; Liz had literally saved my nails when they started crumbling into chalky dust from drug side effects. She understands what drugs can do to nails, and can manage to trim crumbling ends so that they end up looking glamorous!
Urban Retreat and Vikki Ullah wigs were inundated with enquiries, especially as they are able to help and advise on what is best for us after treatment. Each of the Goody Bags had a special voucher for £10 off – and some lucky person won a £500 voucher. More about them later on.
The idea for the event had come out of a LINk Cancer Group meeting. It involved inviting people and companies that provide help and support for cancer patients, to come and talk and to show off their products and services. Ijeoma Igwume worked tirelessly getting it all together, aided by Paula Murphy, and Gaenor Holland Williams got the benefits agencies together to offer incredibly useful advice,
Patients, Carers and supporters were able to talk to support centres, benefits agencies, manufacturers and other patients under one roof – all about the things they wanted to know, but never found whom to talk to. And those ‘manning’ stalls said how useful it was to talk to other stallholders, as well as visitors.
More about the Raffle and Goody Bags later on – because those were a story in themselves; everyone went away with lots of pressies, thanks to the generosity of the stall holders and many others.