Cancer Connections, where there is someone to talk to who knows what it’s like living with cancer

Located in South Tyneside in the North East of England is a charity dedicated to serving individuals and families suffering from cancer and its after-effects.

Care available from the NHS rarely provides the emotional and practical help that many people need when trying to return to a ‘normal life’ after cancer.

About Us

Anyone struggling with cancer is welcome at Cancer Connections

Cancer Connections, located in South Tyneside in the North East of England, is a charity dedicated to serving individuals and families suffering from cancer and its after-effects.
Although treatment in the NHS is very good, the care available from the NHS rarely provides the emotional and practical help that many people need when trying to return to ‘normal life’ after cancer. The diagnosis of cancer can have a profound impact on the whole family. Most people have to stop work for several months while receiving treatment. Partners may have to give up or change work to care for their spouse; children can experience many different problems knowing that a parent has a potentially fatal illness. In these situations it is helpful to share problems with others who have experienced the same difficulties.

At 258 Harton Lane, South Shields, you will find a ‘home from home’ where there is “someone to talk with who understands”in a welcoming, non-clinical setting. If you have cancer, have had cancer in the past, are caring for someone with cancer, have a child or family member with cancer, or have been bereaved, you are welcome at Cancer Connections. If possible, please telephone in advance to arrange an appointment. Although we are a resource for the borough of South Tyneside we turn nobody way. We have no waiting lists; the help we offer will start when you first visit us.If you think we can help, or you would like more information, please call us on:

What we do

If you have cancer, have had cancer in the past, are caring for someone with cancer, have a child or family member with cancer, or have been bereaved, you are welcome at Cancer Connections. If you don’t see what you’re looking for below please feel free to contact us and we will do our best to help.

If you would like to know more about Cancer Connections and how we might be able to help you, please telephone 0191 ‍456 5081. One of our staff or volunteers will be pleased to explain what is available and will try to help with any immediate problems. 

If we are not available please leave your name and a contact telephone number and we will call back as soon as possible. All enquiries are treated as confidential and we will not leave messages on an answer-phone.

When you were told by the specialist that you had cancer the cancer nurse probably gave you lots of information and leaflets about treatment. Unfortunately, due to the stress of the occasion, you have probably forgotten some of this, or did not ‘take it in’, and now have questions you would like answered. If it’s about further investigations, your next appointment or treatment, the person to ask is your Cancer Nurse – telephone them and leave a message with your name and number.


At Cancer Connections there is a retired surgeon and cancer specialist with whom you can talk and who can answer many of your medical questions. Having time to talk through the information you already have in a non-clinical setting can be helpful. We also have a range of cancer information booklets. 
In the meantime, if you want to look on the internet do be careful, because there are many sites that will not be helpful! One website that does provide reliable, accurate, up to date information is Cancer Research UK.

WHAT WE OFFER
Complementary Therapies are not a cure or treatment for cancer but they can make you feel much better and sometimes help with sleep.
Nobody really knows how they work but there is no doubt that many people find them helpful.

    • Waiting for a scan and feeling tense?

    • Troubled by side effects of treatment?
    • Finding it hard to get back into the swing of family life and work?
    • Anxious about the future? 
    • Caring for someone with Cancer and feel like a little pampering yourself?


Come to Cancer Connections and ask about a therapy.
WHAT WE ARE OFFER

    • Massage

    • Reiki
    • Indian Head massage
    • Reflexology
    • Hand, Foot massage
    • Sound therapy
    • Facials, pedicures & manicures

WHAT WE OFFER
If you are worried about how a therapy might affect your cancer treatment you can discuss this with one of our qualified therapists and decide which one might help you best

They have lots of experience with different cancers and recovery from different treatments.

Like everything else at Cancer Connections complementary therapies are free of charge to anyone affected by cancer.

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Cancer can cause many different feelings which may be difficult to understand or to cope with: anger, fear, uncertainty, sadness, why me?
Talking with your partner, family, friends, doctor or nurse can be a great help, but it is often very helpful to talk to somebody independent who understands your feelings and is trained to help you deal with them in a positive way. At Cancer Connections we have counsellors who have many years’ experience helping people affected by cancer or bereavement.
Some other counselling services have long waiting lists but at Cancer Connections our counsellor will contact you within 24 hours and arrange your first meeting to suit your need

Children whose parent has been diagnosed with cancer or who have lost a parent, grandparent or other close member of their family as a result of cancer can experience particular problems. Help and support within the family is most important and skilled support is available in most schools but sometimes external assistance is needed.

At Cancer Connections our staff are able to work with the whole family in whichever way is most appropriate. We are happy to receive referrals from parents, carers, teachers or health care professionals.

Young people over 16 can contact us themselves.

At Cancer Connections we are pleased to help anybody bereaved by cancer. All of our staff and volunteers have been affected by cancer in some way or another, and that includes losing a husband or wife, brother or sister, a child, a grandparent or a friend.

  • If you would like to talk with someone about the person who has died, we are happy to listen.
  • If you are not sure how to go about practical things, our experience may be able to help. If you wish, we can help you with your arrangements for a funeral.
  • If you are really struggling to cope with your loss and don’t know where to turn we have special counsellors who are experienced in helping people who have been bereaved.
  • We can also help children or teenagers who are affected by bereavement.

 

What people say

YOUR SITUATION

This is a devastating experience for most people – even if you did suspect something serious when the hospital ‘phoned with an urgent appointment to see the specialist.

“The doctor was very kind and tried to explain the treatment I could have, and the nurse said not to worry, they would do some more tests and I would start treatment soon. But I can’t remember anything they said – I didn’t hear anything else, my mind went blank”.

Now you are home again, looking at this computer screen, there are so many questions going round in your head. You are probably wondering where to look, what to do, where to go, who to talk to, what happens next?

In this situation it can be helpful to talk with others who have been through the same experience, so ask if there is a cancer support group near where you live and make contact with them.

 

If you live in the North East of England, come along to Cancer Connections.

We are open 9am to 3pm Monday to Thursday at 258 Harton Lane, South Shields NE34 0LR.    

If you prefer to telephone our number is 0191‍ 456 5081

Based on our experience at Cancer Connections, we suggest the following:

  • talk about it with your family, or a close friend.
  • write down your questions.
  • arrange another appointment with the specialist.
  • take your husband, wife, partner or friend with you so that they can remember what you forget.
  • take the piece of paper with you and ask all the questions.
  • make sure that you understand the answers.

The diagnosis of cancer can have a big impact on the whole family. Children can experience many different problems when they discover that their Mum or Dad, or grandparent, has a serious illness.

Never having been in this position before, you may feel that you do not know how to tell your children about the cancer. What exactly do you say? What do you call it? How much to tell them? Are there any children’s books that would be good to read together? What if they don’t understand? Will they be upset? Should their teachers at school be told?

At Cancer Connections we are able to help you, as a parent, to talk with your family. We have books for children and other helpful material. There are also mothers, fathers and grandparents who have had cancer and come with their young families. We know how to make the children feel at home while their mum catches up with friends, sees a counsellor or enjoys a therapy. For teenagers struggling to come to terms with their parent’s cancer we also have experienced counsellors available.

If you think we might be able to help your family, contact to Cancer Connections. We are open Monday to Thursday 9am – 5pm, or telephone 0191 ‍456 5081.

In general it is true that ‘men don’t talk about cancer’ but that does not mean that they don’t want to talk about it – especially if they or their wife has been diagnosed with it.

In a questionnaire that we sent to residents of South Tyneside two thirds of men who replied (67%) said that if they had cancer they would like someone to talk to about it.

Coping with the news, taking time off work for tests and treatment, unable to work while you are recovering, worrying about money, anxious about your job, not wanting to upset your wife or partner, too embarrassed to talk about it with friends or colleagues – all of these things can have a serious effect on family life and on yourself as a person.

Talking about it in the family can be a great help, but many men find this difficult: “My boys look up to me, I can’t let them down” or “my wife is wonderful but she shouldn’t have to worry about this”.

In this situation, talking with someone outside the family, but not at hospital, who has had the same or a similar cancer can be a great help.

Come to Cancer Connections – by yourself, in confidence, or as a couple, or bring the whole family.

For most people, having chemotherapy or radiotherapy is a completely new experience so there is no way that you can know what to expect or what may happen. Although there are national guidelines for treating each type of cancer, it is important to realize that both chemotherapy and radiotherapy are adjusted to your particular situation. Also, remember that everybody is different and that people react differently to similar treatments.

Before you start treatment your medical team should have explained what your chemotherapy or radiotherapy will involve. With each visit for treatment there is always an opportunity to ask the nurse, radiographer or medical staff about anything that that worries you or you do not understand. Don’t be afraid to ask! If you need or would like more information about any part of your treatment you can:

Telephone your Cancer Nurse Specialist at the hospital. They will probably be busy but leave a message with your name and ‘phone number and they will call you when they have finished work in the clinic or ward.

For cancer information on the internet go to www.cancerhelp.org.uk. This is the website of Cancer Research UK which is updated regularly and gives accurate, up to date information about cancers and their treatment in the UK.

OR, come to Cancer Connections where you can talk with other people who have had chemotherapy and radiotherapy and know what it’s like.

Recovery after cancer surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy varies from person to person. Some people seem to bounce back very quickly while others find it quite impossible to work for several months.

Part of recovery is physical, as the wound heals, muscles regain their strength, and side-effects of radio or chemotherapy subside. Your medical team will give you a good idea what to expect, and you will probably find that your ‘body will tell you’ when you are ready.

The other part of getting back to work is psychological, and less easy to understand. Many people find that the whole process of cancer treatment undermines their confidence. After weeks or months when you seem to have little control over what is happening to you, the idea of going back to work and making decisions, catching up with what’s happened while you have been away, can be quite a struggle.

Then there’s the question of meeting work colleagues again. Will the manager understand that it would help if you could start back part time? Will the boss or Personnel allow it? Will your colleagues want to talk about your experience or not know what to say? May be worried about you joining the production team again?

If you are concerned about returning to work after cancer treatment, or need help in approaching your employer, contact Cancer Connections. Here you can meet other people who have been through this part of the ‘cancer journey’, are enjoying work again, and can help.

Caring, at home, for someone who has advanced cancer can be an exhausting job – more than full time if you have to be up in the night. Even when you are asleep you are listening just in case help is needed. No matter how devoted you are it is probably unrealistic to think that you will be able to manage by yourself.

Fortunately, plenty of help is available, but you may need help to find it.

  • Your GP and the District Nurses will be the first people to ask.
  • If you or they think more help is needed they should contact the Community Palliative Care Team (Macmilllan Nurses and Social Worker) or the Local Hospice and Palliative Care specialists.
  • Marie Curie or Macmillan volunteers can sit through the night so you can get some sleep.
  • Your family will also want to help, but it is important to be honest with each other and be organised about who can do what – and be prepared to support each other.
  • If at any time you feel more help is needed don’t be afraid to ask the professionals!
  • You will, of course, want all the attention to be given to the person with the cancer but it is easy for your needs, as the carer, to be forgotten.
  • Your neighbours may be able to help with shopping but may hesitate to offer if you do not ask.

You need to get out for some fresh air, go to the shops, have a coffee with friends without feeling guilty, maybe talk with someone to share your worries, seek some advice, even have a laugh. From time to time you will need a break.

At Cancer Connections you will find friends who have been there and understand.

In today’s world, although there is a lot of death in the news, in the papers and on television, death is not something that people like to talk about. As a result, many people feel embarrassed and do not know what to say, or do, when someone dies.

The death of a loved one or a close friend will cause very strong emotions, some of them new and unexpected, some confusing and distressing. On top of your grief and feeling sad or angry, it is quite possible that you will also feel lonely – even ‘deserted’ by your friends or family – just at the time when you need their comfort and support the most.

Friends and acquaintances come to the funeral but then assume that life goes on as it did before and expect you to ‘get over it’ and get back to ‘normal’ as if nothing has changed. When you want to talk about the person who has died, they change the subject. Because they have not been through this experience they do not understand, but that does not make it any easier for you.

At Cancer Connections we are pleased to help anybody bereaved by cancer. All of our staff and volunteers have been affected by cancer in some way or another, and that includes losing a husband or wife, brother or sister, a child, a grandparent or a friend.

  • If you would like to talk with someone about the person who has died, we are happy to listen.
  • If you are not sure how to go about practical things, our experience may be able to help. If you wish, we can help you with your arrangements for a funeral.
  • If you are really struggling to cope with your loss and don’t know where to turn we have special counsellors who are experienced in helping people who have been bereaved.
  • We can also help children or teenagers who are affected by bereavement. 

Every family is different but when someone develops cancer all the members of their family are affected in some way. Often the person with the cancer seems to cope quite well – concentrating on their treatment, hospital appointments, sorting out the sudden changes to everyday life and it is their partner or others in the family who struggle to come to terms with what is happening.

“I feel so helpless”, “There’s nothing I can do”, “I wish it was me” – is what we hear from partners, parents, brothers and sisters.

These feelings of frustration, anxiety, sadness, even anger, can easily cause tensions to develop just when strong support within the family is needed most.

That is why Cancer Connections offers help for all the family. If you are the partner, parent, sister, brother or child of someone with cancer, the understanding of others in the same situation, talking with a counsellor or enjoying complementary therapy can be enormously helpful.

Children who have lost a parent or close family member face particular problems and can benefit from specialist help. At Cancer Connections we have specially trained staff who can help children and families in this situation.

If you think we could help you or others of your family telephone 0191 ‍456 5081 or call in at Cancer Connections.

Our Book: Connecting with Cancer

Reg Hall, one of Cancer Connections’ founders, has put together an award-winning book of stories told to him by people who have experienced cancer in different ways, most of them from Cancer Connections. ‘Connecting with Cancer’ received the Chair’s Special Award in the British Medical Association annual book competition 2018.

If you enjoy the book please consider DONATING

The book is illustrated by Robert Olley, the well-known South Shields artist.

 Creation of Connecting with Cancer’ 
“The ethos of the cancer support charity Cancer Connections is that people who have experienced cancer are the best able to help others who find themselves in a similar situation. Only someone who has had cancer can really understand what it is like. Over the past 15 years nearly six thousand people have come to Cancer Connections…..

Copies are available from Cancer Connections 

DONATE

At Cancer Connections we make no charge for any of the help that we offer and therefore depend for almost all of our funding on charitable donations and the income from supporters who take part in sponsored events, including our own annual Boxing Day Dip and the North East Great North Run.

The annual cost of running Cancer Connections is approximately £160,000.

DONATE:

  • On-line – at www.justgiving.com/cancerconnections
  • or set up a personal fundraising page on the Just Giving website.

 

  • Monthly Direct Debit or by bank transfer. (Please contact our office for the necessary bank details)
  • Donate in person at 258 Harton Lane, South Shields NE34 0LR
  • Donate by post – Please send cheques to: 
    Cancer Connections,
    258 Harton Lane, 
    South Shields,
    NE34 0LR

Our Team

Manager
Deborah Roberts

Financial Administrator
Ashley Olley

Counsellors
Miriam Ahmed MBACP
James Liddle MBACP, MNCPS
Ian Simpson BA Hons, MBACP, MNCPS
Jo Shaw-Pike MBACP

Counselling Supervisor
Sharon Bailey MNCPS

Complementary Therapists
Jean Turner FHT Member Reiki Teacher
Samantha Egan  FHT Member 
Danielle Roberts VTCT Massage & Reflexology, Sound Therapy
Janette Tisseman RGN, RM, Cert.Ed, MFHT
Alvina Wanless MFHT, VTCT Therapeutic & Sports Massage 

 

Volunteers

Reception:
Sandra Stout,
Joy Hill,
Rachel Groombridge.

Drop-In:
Joyce Groombridge,
Norma Thirlwall,
Stella Matthewson.

Chic Boutique:
Kris L’Reay.

Directors
John Anglin BA
Johnathan Carroll BA Hons, FACCA (Treasurer)
Fay Cunningham (Chairperson)
Rachel Gillies
Reg Hall MS, FRCS
Andrew Hodgson (Meetings Secretary)
Christopher Potts LLB (Company Secretary)
Dawn Townsley RGN

 

Patrons

Dame Margaret Barbour, DBE DL.
Chair of J.Barbour & Sons Ltd, the global clothing empire, and the Barbour Foundation.

Josef Craig MBE.
Paralympic swimming Gold Medallist and BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year 2012

Jade Thirlwall. 
International singer-songwriter, formerly with Little Mix girl band.

Contact Us

Cancer Connections is a charity serving people affected by cancer living in South Tyneside and beyond.

If you want to find out more, or think that we may be able to help you, have a browse through our site for more information or telephone us on 
0191 456 5081.

Company limited by guarantee number 05929741 

Registered Charity number 1116728

Cancer Connections
258 Harton Lane
South Shields
Tyne & Wear NE34 0LR

info@cancerconnections.org.uk

0191 4565081

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