A CANCER support service that has helped thousands of people in St Helens is celebrating its tenth anniversary.

The Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Service, based at St Helens Hospital, opened its doors to the community in 2010.

Over the past decade, the team have provided essential support to thousands of people and their families as they deal with cancer diagnosis, treatment, and life after cancer.

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Since 2010, the service has helped over 62,282 people with cancer queries and has evolved to meet the changing needs of local people.

One person who has benefitted from the service is Gill Shepherd, who was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia 19 years ago.

The 64-year-old has first-hand experience of the service, both as a patient and as a volunteer over the past ten years.

Gill said: “I’ve always felt safe with Macmillan.

“I discovered the information and support service 10 years ago after a haematology appointment, I stepped out of the lift and saw them there. They’ve always looked after my welfare and helped with any issues I had.

“Macmillan makes such a difference just by being there, even with things you might not think about.

“I wanted to have a holiday once my treatment was complete, and they helped me find the right kind of travel insurance.

“They’ve also helped me to find utility providers who have given us priority status.

“They answer all your questions, because you never have just one question,  they’re a phenomenal go-to source of information, even for little things like help with buying household items or bigger concerns like work-related and benefit queries.”

The specialist team consists of Macmillan professionals, a Macmillan benefit adviser, and trained volunteers, all working together to make a huge difference to the lives of patients and families affected by cancer.

While many services have been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, staff have continued to help cancer patients and their loved ones in recent months, and want to remind people that support is just a phone call away.

A confidential drop-in service for anyone affected by cancer is also running from Monday to Friday between 9.30am and 4pm.

The Macmillan team at St Helens Hospital provide a range of support options for patients at different stages of their cancer journey, including health and wellbeing days, and the HOPE cancer course to help survivors navigate life after cancer.

The team also help with more practical matters like assisting patients with benefit and grant applications and providing a wealth of written information, as well as signposting patients to other agencies to help them access the support they need at the right time.

Gill was so grateful for the care and attention she received by the team that she decided to become a volunteer to help others through their cancer journey.

She said: “They arranged for me to attend a buddying course, so I can ‘buddy up’ with other patients and help them along their own journey. I’ve been buddies with a lady for three years, and have made sure to ring her during lockdown as the support is still needed.

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“Macmillan has supported me and now I can support others, even if we don’t have the same diagnosis, we still have the same thoughts and feelings, and with my Macmillan training I can help them deal with their emotions.

“It’s really important for me to do that.

“Coming through those lift doors, it’s like walking into open arms. I am delighted to hear they are up and running again – we need them.’

For more information call 01744 647 000 or email Macmillansupport@sthk.nhs.uk