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Islander with cancer launches support site

Islander with cancer launches support site

Monday 10 February 2020

Islander with cancer launches support site


An islander currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer has created an online directory packed with details of supportive organisations, charities and tips to make life easier for others dealing with the disease.

Air Traffic Controller Lorna Pirozzolo says she is launching cancer.je for cancer patients, as well as "their loved ones, the general public, employers and medical professionals."

Her directory will allow users to search for support according to the type of cancer they need support with, who they are (a patient or a carer, for example), and what kind of service they require. 

There will also be a search function for related services such as pain support, mental health, mobility, and suppliers for medical aids or accessories.

hospital waiting 

Pictured: Lorna got the idea for the directory after meeting other patients in waiting rooms.

Lorna, who is part of the Cancer Strategy Project Board and the Cancer Charities Cluster, started working on cancer.je during her last round of chemo, after realising many islanders were not aware of the support available to them. 

While she says she was lucky enough not to need financial support, Lorna said she herself struggled to find information relating to help with transport.

“With having continuous treatment and scans, I spend a lot of time in hospital waiting rooms,” she explained to Express.

“Patients chat to each other and time after time I was meeting people who had missed out on available support. Usually, this was due to not knowing it was available or not knowing how or where to access it.

“After one such discussion, I went home considering how it could be made easier for people to find the support they need. I, quite aimlessly, found myself looking up www.cancer.je and was surprised to find that no-one had bought the domain. I bought it there and then.”

After spending two days thinking about how the domain name could be used to help others, Lorna contacted local cancer charities and hospital staff to check whether a similar service existed and it was actually needed. 

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Pictured: cancer.je aims to give islanders with cancer details of supportive organisations, charities and tips to make life easier.

While directories listing local cancer organisations already exist, Lorna says patients still have to look through them all to find the help they need.

“Receiving a cancer diagnosis is one of most stressful times a person will face,” she explained.

“Also, when people are receiving treatment they might be suffering from fatigue or some cognitive deficit. It may seem like such a small thing to healthy people but going from website to website to find the support you need is just too much. 

“The idea of cancer.je is that people will be able to search for the services rather than just find out what organisations exist.”

The site will first launch in spring with the directory for cancer services. The next step will be adding a directory for related services. 

“Having cancer can create other health problems or aggravate already existing problems," Lorna said. 

“Cancer patients can go on to experience mental illness, pain, allergies etc… They may be able to get help with those from available cancer services but there are non-cancer services that may be better placed to help them. So, we want to make them aware of what is available in that regard and how to access it.”

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Pictured: The site will also include patient stories as well as non-medical tips covering different aspects of life with cancer.

In the future, cancer.je will also include statutory services relevant to cancer patients, such as hospital departments and the websites for UK hospitals to which Jersey patients are commonly sent, as well as information on income support, incapacity allowance, and disability parking.

Lorna, who is working on the site in addition to her full-time job at the airport with the help of Deborah Taylor, also wants to include patient stories as well as non-medical tips covering different aspects of life with cancer.

Lorna says they will be focused on “social” elements, such as travelling when you have cancer, to make people’s “own experience easier”.

While the website will not include any medical tips, all tips shared by islanders will be checked by medical personnel – including two cancer specialists – before being posted.

To make the site useful to more, Lorna – who is currently meeting the costs of the directory herself - hopes to secure funding in the future to pay not only for the content to be translated into Portuguese and Polish, but also web design services to create a tablet and phone-friendly version. 

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