Advocating for you during cancer

Being diagnosed with cancer can stir up a lot of questions. Not just about your health and what treatment you might need, but also how the diagnosis will affect the practical matters of your life.

Sometimes, you just need someone to talk to about any worries or uncertainties you might have.

Did you know there is a free service in Rotherham that is championing the rights of people affected by cancer?

Rotherham Cancer Advocacy Service is there to listen to, support and empower people in the town. The advocacy service offers non-medical information on issues relating to a cancer diagnosis. Part of Citizen’s Advice, their advocates provide impartial, independent and confidential support about a range of matters.

The advocates have access to expert advice that will better inform you so you can understand ways you can help yourself. Advisors from Citizen’s Advice and Macmillan Benefits Advice Service are on-hand to provide advice about things like financial worries, issues with employment or sick pay, queries about insurance policies, or if there are any benefits you might be entitled to.

The team can also signpost people to other services that are available locally. Some people find cancer isolating and the advocates can point them in the direction of befrienders or support groups. Others might benefit from counselling to talk openly about how their diagnosis is impacting them emotionally.

Maybe you would like to keep active but don’t know where to start; in Rotherham there are fitness and yoga classes that have been tailored to support people living with cancer. If you’re having any side effects from the cancer or treatment, such as hair loss or trouble sleeping, you could benefit from holistic or hair and beauty therapies that are provided free of charge by charities like Rotherham Cancer Care or Aurora Wellbeing.

Moira is one of the clients who had been to be supported by Rotherham Cancer Advocacy Service.

She says: ‘My advocate listened to my needs and sent me details of numerous useful contacts which I followed up. I attend a weekly fitness class for people with cancer which is very professional and fun. I have also been on free skincare and make up workshops which I enjoyed very much and improved self-esteem. I am currently receiving wig care help and advice which is helping me enormously, as I was finding hair care maintenance very stressful. I am extremely grateful for help I have received. It has really cheered me up.”

Rotherham Cancer Advocacy Service is open to anyone who has received a cancer diagnosis from Rotherham Hospital, regardless of the type of cancer or whether the illness is terminal. It can also be used by loved ones or carers who have consent to act on their behalf.

You’ll be assigned your own advocate who you’ll speak to each time, meaning you get to know the familiar voice and they understand your individual story. All the advocates are volunteers who give their time to supporting others. While they can’t change a diagnosis or solve a problem, hopefully by listening to your needs they can give you hope that you will get through it.

The telephone service is available Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm. It is volunteer led and funded by NHS South Yorkshire Integrated Care Board. You can be referred by your cancer nurse or self-refer if you prefer by calling 01709 515680.

Free beauty and complementary therapies for people living with cancer

For people diagnosed with cancer, there are three charity-run centres in our region that offer free treatments to help relieve the side effects of cancer or treatment.

A skilled and caring therapist takes the time to make you feel cared for, playing a very supportive role during cancer treatment and recovery.

People can either be referred by their cancer nurse or self-refer by contacting the charities directly.

Aurora Wellbeing Centre, Mexborough

The centre behind Montagu Hospital was opened in 2005 and provides a range of hair, beauty and holistic treatments for both men and women.

It was initially started as a charity within the Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust but is now a standalone charity.

People with a cancer diagnosis can receive six free beauty or holistic treatments and two free hair treatments. Their nominated carer can also receive two free treatments of their choice.

To help fund their services, the Aurora is also open to the public who can pay a suggested donation for any of their treatments.

Their two therapists offer a range of beauty services including manicures and pedicures, facials, waxing, brow and lash treatments. They also provide holistic therapies such as reflexology, reiki, massages including Indian head and hot stone, and warm wax treatments for circulation.

Aurora Wellbeing Centre also has a hairdresser who does everything from cuts and colours to perms and blow waves. She can also give advice about hair thinning or loss during chemotherapy. For patients who have lost their hair, the Aurora also has a wig library available where you can loan wigs or hairpieces for free to save on the cost of a prescription wig. 

As well as treatments, the Aurora provides a six-week wellbeing course where people can learn to recognise triggers that lead to depression, anxiety or anger and what methods may help remove negative thoughts. They also offer services like personal colour analysis, a monthly breast cancer support group on the last Thursday of the month, and a buddies’ club on the last Saturday of the month for a chance to speak to other people in similar circumstances.

Within grounds of Montagu Hospital, Adwick Road, Mexborough S64 0AZ

01709 649122

Rotherham Cancer Care Centre, Clifton

The free service was launched in 2004 and became an independent charity in 2012.

Rotherham Cancer Care has a team of four assessors, all of whom have a nursing background, who take the time to understand to a person’s physical and emotional health before suggesting the therapies that may help alleviate any feelings about diagnosis, treatment or remission.

All therapies are aimed at relaxation and are carried out by a team of seven experienced therapists. Their therapies include reflexology, Reiki, lymph drainage massage, hypnotherapy and meditation.

Rotherham Cancer Care also offers a counselling service that currently has no waiting list. People benefit from being able to talk openly and explore their feelings and emotions with someone who is trained to listen.

93 Badsley Moor Lane, Clifton, Rotherham S65 2PS

01709 375729

The Well for Wellbeing, Barnsley

This free service is funded by donations to Barnsley Hospital Charity. The Well, based in Barnsley town centre, offers a range of wellbeing and therapeutic care packages for men and women.

People living in Barnsley with a cancer diagnosis can receive six free beauty or complementary therapies.

The treatments available include brow stencilling, manicures and pedicures, facials and skin care advice, and make up application and advice. They also offer a range of complementary therapies such as acupuncture, reflexology, reiki, and massages including oriental and shiatsu.

As well as therapeutic treatments, The Well also offers other services such as a yoga class every Monday at 1pm for a small donation of £2. They also run a drop-in session every Wednesday morning at Barnsley Hospital to show people different scarf tying techniques and headwear available. 

Queens Court Business Centre, 33 Regent Street, Barnsley S70 2EG

01226 733019