Frome-based cancer counselling charity We Hear You (WHY) is marking World Cancer Day 2021 on 4th February by reflecting on a year of unprecedented challenges for people coping with a diagnosis of cancer.

Director Melissa Hillier says “We’ve been supporting people affected by cancer and other life-threatening conditions since 1994 and we know that the emotional impact is enormous, both for the person diagnosed and everyone connected to them.”

“Our service demand and provision has more than doubled in the last five years, as well as expanding to new parts of Somerset and Wiltshire. But WHY is still a small charity and this year has restricted our usual community activities that help people to find us. We want to be sure we’re reaching the many people whose experience of cancer has or will be affected by the events of the last year. We’re proud to have kept supporting people throughout the pandemic and we hope that 2021 will bring an opportunity to return to some kind of normality.”

“The hugely worrying statistics from our colleagues at Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support and others tell us that, sadly, returning to normal simply won’t be enough. The pandemic has had a huge impact on all areas of our health service. Delays to cancer treatment are one of the casualties of this unprecedented situation. It has also meant that people have delayed visiting their GP about worrying symptoms or even stayed away completely. The BMJ reported a 60% drop in urgent cancer referrals from primary care back in June 2020 and although excellent progress has been made, it isn’t enough. Some of those who stayed away from their GP in 2020 have cancer and as we know, for many cancers, early diagnosis saves lives.”

“This worrying trend is further demonstrated by three million fewer people having cancer screening between March and September 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 and a huge increase in waiting longer than six weeks for diagnostic tests (Cancer Research UK, 2021). Add to that the many people already undergoing treatment who have had that treatment postponed, and we are looking at a very unsettling picture for people affected by cancer.”

“We’d like to say to anyone coping with cancer and life-threatening conditions, including Covid-19: we’re here to support you with the emotional impact, whether you’re the person diagnosed or their loved one, family member, colleague or friend. Get in touch with us on 01373 455255 or email to find out about our counselling, mindfulness courses, nature-based therapy and all our services.”


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