It’s hard to stay calm when you’re not sure what the future holds. Every year, more than 350,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with cancer. In Bristol, around 10,000 people are currently living with the disease.
Saad lives in Easton. In 2014 he was diagnosed with sarcoma, a rare cancer which affects the body’s soft tissue. Saad used to work for the Royal Mail, but had to give up his job when he became too ill. “I wasn’t sure if I would survive or if I’d ever be able to get my life back. I felt really stressed.”
After four operations and radiotherapy, he began receiving help from Bristol Community Health’s Macmillan Rehabilitation and Support Team. Alongside one-to-one support, Saad attended the HOPE (Help Overcoming Problems Effectively) Course where he met other people living with the disease.
“The course focuses on things like mindfulness, dealing with fatigue and dietary advice,” explains Louise Cinderby, an Occupational Therapist with the team. “But the best bit for patients is the chance to meet other people who can relate to their experiences.”
Like many people living with cancer, Saad used to find it difficult to talk about what he was going through. “I used to hide my illness from people,” he recalls. “But talking to others in the same situation made me realise I wasn’t alone. Now I feel more confident to talk about how I’m feeling. I know that there are good people in my city who care about me.”
The team’s support has helped to allay his fears: “They’ve been there every step of the way. The team calls just to see how I’m doing, and I know that I can get in touch whenever I need help. Some of the providers I’ve worked with could be hard to get hold of, but the Macmillan team were always there giving me their full support.”
Saad still faces many challenges. His flat is at the top of a long flight of stairs, so he is anxious to move somewhere more suitable. His illness also means he is unable to work and, with limited carer support available, he often relies on friends to help with day-to-day tasks.
But, in spite of everything he’s been through, Saad still counts his blessings. “I feel like a really lucky guy. I wish I could pay the team back somehow. They came in when I was at my lowest point and helped me to get back on my feet. I can’t thank them enough.”
About the team
The Macmillan Rehabilitation and Support Team is run in partnership with local healthcare organisations and Macmillan. The service is for anyone living with or beyond cancer and works with patients across Bristol and South Gloucestershire. Both one-to-one and group support is available.
Shirehampton Health Centre (Monday-Thursday, 8:30-16:30)