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New support group for travelling cancer patients

New support group for travelling cancer patients

Saturday 26 December 2020

New support group for travelling cancer patients


An islander who has been undergoing treatment for cancer has set up a group to help support those who have to travel between the island and the UK as part of their treatment.

Established in November, the ‘Jersey Back and Forth Cancer Support Group’ on Facebook aims to give those going through the similar experience of living between the island and another place a forum to discuss their issues, experiences and day-to-day lives.

Talking about the new group, founder Jessie Mutero explained to Express that though “there are many cancer support groups and things alike, there was nothing specific about traveling back and forth off Jersey and the Channel Islands."

“It seems it’s a regular thing for people to have to go to and from the UK, and it’s just so nice to be able to chat to others about their experiences," she said.

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Pictured: Jessie has been living in Southampton getting treatment since July, having only recently moved back to the island with her family this month.

Southampton is one of the main ports of call for islanders undergoing cancer treatment among other UK hospitals, with Cancer Research Jersey describing it as being “considered the 'local hospital' for cancer treatment, as well as the closest hospital for clinical trials, as there is no research environment in Jersey.”

It was making sure others understood and felt prepared for this experience away from home that was important to Jessie: “I felt like I wanted to share my experience to support others, to be able to explain what the hospital was like, the staff, the coffee shops and its current state during covid too.

“I know it can really help people’s anxiety if they’re going to a new place not knowing anything about it, it’s just nice to know what you’re facing before you get there sometimes.”

Talking of some of the issues she has faced during the move, she noted that basic necessities like getting a UK GP were particularly difficult due the lack of an NHS number.

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Pictured: Jessie suggested a more direct approach from hospitals in helping Channel Islanders arrange to move temporarily to the UK for treatment.

She also said there should be more specialist help to assist those moving from the Channel Islands, remarking the person they were given for guidance “knew no more than we already did.”

“There should be someone in each hospital appointed to dealing with Channel Island patients, a point of contact and a support system,” she suggested.

“The member of staff should be able to make all the relevant phone calls for that patient and their family, and ideally have experience with the travel office in the Channel Islands, and hospitals.”

With the Facebook group set up to address these very topics in an open space, Jessie remarked how “it’s been lovely to see so many people sharing their stories. It’s still quite new and whilst there aren’t many conversations yet or questions and answers, we do have around 70 members, so I reckon even just the stories being shared are helping those that are there reading them.”

Indeed, for those going through a similar experience, she encouraged them to both “be assertive” and “be confident to be assertive.”

“Ask questions, and don’t be afraid to chase things up. It can be so overwhelming having a diagnosis and it’s easy to forget things, dates, names of meds and things alike - write it all down and ask again if need be.”

You can join the group HERE.

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