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Archive for the tag “HospiceCare North Northumberland”

Hip hip hooray for HospiceCare supporters

I’m SO pleased with the new ‘Proud to Support HospiceCare’ web banner .

HospiceCare North Northumberland

Just click on the pic to visit the HospiceCare North Northumberland website and find out more about why your support makes a difference to people’s lives and why we want to show our appreciation.

Look, I’m aware this little banner probably seems like something yawn-makingly basic to many people. But it’s pretty much the highlight of my week because I had no idea how to make it happen and now I do. But mostly I’m delighted because we can provide a code to our supporters and they can upload the banner to their websites. This means we can say thank you to them for their support and that they can publicly proclaim that they are proud to support a vital local charity. Hurrah!

I’m also pleased and grateful that it was another local charity that helped us get it together. When local charities work together with local people, local businesses and local organisations – great things happen! So thank you to Andrew Smith of Kreative Technology and Berwick Cancer Cars for taking time out to support HospiceCare.

And today more cross-charity collaboration when the wonderful Emily Casson (find her on Twitter) of Cats Protection League who gave the HospiceCare team a fabulous insight into digital fundraising. Sharing knowledge and expertise is a vital part of any organisation’s success and collaborating with fellow charities is refreshingly motivating and inspiring.

HospiceCare Fundraising Team with Emily Casson, Digital Marketing Manager of Cats Protection and Chair of the Institute of Fundraising North East group (second from the right).

News just in: I’m a community fundraiser!

I am absolutely delighted to be taking up the job of Community Fundraiser for our local nurse-led hospice care charity in Berwick: HospiceCare North Northumberland. Delighted, excited and a little bit daunted.

Jackie - Community Fundraiser, Berwick. HospiceCare North Northumberland

Day 2 in the office!

HospiceCare North Northumberland is a truly local charity and provides a superb range of free support and care to adults with life-limiting conditions at any stage of their illness – and to their families and carers too. From hospice at home to end-of-life care and from drop-ins to bereavement counselling, this work is an essential part of caring for the lives of everyone in our community.

HospiceCare has been around for 20 years and is the main palliative care provider in North Northumberland. You don’t need a referral to use the services of the Hospice, you can simply get in touch and speak to one of our nurses (check the link to the website above for contact details). This year we need to generate around £660,000 to bolster the contribution of about £40,000 we receive from the NHS.

I can’t wait to work with volunteers, community groups, individuals and local businesses to raise much needed funds to support the vital and life-enhancing work of this fabulous local charity. You’ll find me in Berwick in the office above HospiceCare’s Wear & Care shop on Violet Terrace. Whether you want to volunteer, make a donation, share a fundraising idea or just want to say ‘hello’, I’d love to meet you.

HospiceCare logo

World Cancer Day – Feb 4th 2017


I’m reblogging this post because, two years on from the original post, it’s World Cancer Day and the facts about bowel cancer remain the same.

Bowel Cancer UK is one of the ten charities aiming to get people talking about particular cancers, spotting and responding to symptoms, and dealing with treatments.

Bowel Cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK. As someone who’s just completed treatment for it, I  highly recommend that you get checked out if you’re at all worried. You can find a list of symptoms on the Bowel Cancer UK and NHS sites. You’ll find my own experience of discovering I had bowel cancer here.

I’m not a great fan of the language that’s developed around cancer. To me, terms like ‘beating’ and ‘fighting’ cancer are loaded and even unhelpful – you can read about why I personally feel that way here. However, I do believe that the more we talk openly about cancer, discuss the symptoms, and acknowledge the realities of living with it and through treatments for it, the more likely we are to save lives. Bowel cancer, for example, is treatable and curable if diagnosed early.

My own two favourite local charities that support people with life-shortening and terminal illnesses here in Berwick-upon-Tweed are HospiceCare North Northumberland and Cancer Cars (Berwick and District Cancer Support Group). I would urge you to support one or both of these splendid organisations. Alternatively, give to one of the big charities to support nationwide and worldwide cancer initiatives. Then get your phone/device out and share to promote a wider understanding of cancer and its symptoms by posting a wonderful selfie!

I feel like giving two fingers to the big cancer charities that blithely ask us to ‘wage war’ on cancer

This is a version of an article by me published on Voice of the North (VotN) recently. I’m posting it here in the interests of completion in terms of my thoughts on having cancer. Thanks to David Banks editor of VotN for the photo idea (his execution is way lovelier than my smeary snap!).


I’m increasingly overwhelmed and irritated by some of the viral and advertising cancer campaigns that inundate our daily lives. I didn’t think I’d ever jump on the Jenny Diski ‘don’t call me brave’ bandwagon. I thought it didn’t matter how others perceive you or the way you live through cancer. That’s up to them, I thought. However, the pigeonholing of people with cancer as universal footsoldiers in the eye of a horrific conflict is pretty unrelenting. Targeted marketing on social networking means that as soon as there’s a whiff of cancer about you, your timeline is dotted with ads and rallying cries from cancer organisations to fight cancer. And there are SO many organisations that it’s hard to make sense of what they all actually do, other than encourage us to part with our money.

And it isn’t just online: you can’t walk out of the door or turn on the TV without an advert, poster, or message about some aspect of the condition being presented to you. Advertisers (and friends and family, of course) are extremely keen to see you conquer the disease, and to battle on, showing how brave, inspirational, or indomitable you are. Sometimes it can feel as if it is your duty to deal with this feared enemy in a suitable way. A way that, perhaps, encourages others to feel that they would do the same in your shoes. Most importantly, you should strive to be among the percentage who conquer cancer and go on to live a long and cancer-free life. If you’re unsuccessful, it’s important that you exit this life at peace after your brief or long contest with the mighty demon cancer. It’s a big responsibility alongside feeling like shit!

Cancer, of course, is not simply one illness. It’s a multitude of illnesses linked by the fact that they all involve mutating cells in some form or other. Of course no one wants to have cancer but the reality is that one in two people are currently likely to get some form of cancer. So it’s not unreasonable to suppose it might be you. Obviously, I hope it isn’t you. Don’t get me wrong, our family has experienced many blessings through cancer (and cancer is a shared family experience), including feeling more closeknit, communicating more openly with each other and meeting some fab people. Personally, I relish each new day in a way that I hadn’t realised I didn’t do before. But, overall, having cancer and being treated for it isn’t much fun.

So, endless images and conversations that present you and the illness you have in a way that you do not perceive yourself gets wearing. At the end of the day, you have no choice about being someone with cancer. It’s part of life and you find the best way to live with it and through it. Of course it helps having people cheering and praying and encouraging from the sidelines – the support and care of all those around you is thrillingly life-enhancing. And, of course, those who have life-threatening or shortening illnesses are wise to remember how difficult it can be for others to express their support – being seriously ill can make you a bit touchy!

During my operation and subsequent chemotherapy for bowel cancer there was a particular advert on TV that at first grated and then just got me down. It was a man who shivered alone in an icy black and white wilderness, unaware of the people around him. Then a nurse from the particular charity joined him and everything became full colour and he was not so lonely. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was that annoyed or upset me about the ad (although the fact that my 14-year-old had to leave the room every time it came on will certainly have been a factor) – to be honest it might just have been that it was there!

It is lonely having cancer: the realisation of its impact on your life and the lives of your friends and family isolate you in an inaccessible way. Thoughts of cancer run like a constant tickertape across your mind. When you’re cleaning your teeth, when you’re reading a book, when you’re chatting to someone and telling them how ‘fine’ you are: it’s always there – in the way I imagine tinnitus to be a constant and wearisome companion.

Perhaps the ads and campaigns, such as the recent viral tic on Facebook to turn your profile photo monochrome as a symbol of solidarity against cancer, are simply too in your face for those who have (or have had) cancer.  So I do have sympathy with the woman who was so incensed by the black and white profile pic thing that she took a selfie in a mirror (defiantly bare-breasted and nipple-less) flicking a V sign, to underscore her disgust at the simplistic and lazy idea that recolouring your picture will somehow show solidarity with those who have cancer – or, more importantly, do something to help or support them. Personally I have no desire to reveal my cancer scar – although I acknowledge that many find it cathartic. I also acknowledge that there are campaigns about raising awareness of particular cancers, encouraging people to get themselves checked out, offering support services, and raising funds to find better treatments etc. But I do think that marketeers have got rather carried away with themselves.

This morning it was Cancer Research that got up my nose with the following ad on my Facebook timeline:

Stand Up To Cancer UK

For too long, cancer’s been playing dirty. It’s been going after kids, targeting grannies… and even taking cheap-shots at our breasts and testicles. It’s time to rebel against cancer.

What does this even mean? I can’t believe that personifying cancer is useful in any way, shape or form. I don’t see cancer as ‘playing dirty’ and I don’t see myself as a ‘rebel against cancer’.  Have these money-raising campaigns lost sight of why they are doing this? Have they forgotten about the people with cancer and focused instead on an idealised picture of having cancer? Or have they got carried away with the sheer joy of being able to pop out to run a marathon, walk a mountain, fly along a zipwire, and the satisfaction of getting sponsored for ‘a good cause’ for doing it? I often wonder just how much these big organisations spend on communications and advertisements. How much sponsorship never arrives at the charitable destination of choice?

And I think that’s it: all the adjectives and hyperbole seem to me to be a bedspread under which the process of breeding money has become a self-flagellating dirty secret. Cancer fundraising is increasingly all about itself rather than about the reality of the people who are dealing with cancer – whether they be medics, researchers, care workers, people with cancer or their families. Whilst I applaud the idea of raising money to support good causes (and medical ones) on a large scale, I wonder if big charities need a reality check, time out to revisit their purpose and ethos.

I would suggest that it is on the local level that cancer support charities meet tangible needs at source. Here in Berwick, Berwick Cancer Cars (Berwick and District Cancer Support) ferry people the 80-100-mile round-trip to Newcastle-based hospitals. For someone undergoing radiotherapy, that’s a daily journey – often for six weeks or so. HospiceCare North Northumberland provides free support to patients, carers and families – and care in their own homes for those who wish to die at home. This is the up-close-and-personal end of serious illness.

I’m not saying we don’t need research, and organisations with a macro, nationwide and global view. I am saying that such organisations need to ensure that what they are doing is about real things; real people, and not just about raising money for the sake of it.

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