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07
Nov
Worcester Support Group

written by

Leukaemia Care, Charity

  • Worcester support group

Our Worcester Support Group began in the same way as many others: with a questionnaire. We wanted to know if there was demand for a group in Worcestershire, where Leukaemia Care is based, so we sent questionnaires to hospitals in the region. From there, they were handed out to patients to get their feedback on a local support group.

When the questionnaires returned, it was clear that there was demand for a support group, so we went about setting it up. Leukaemia CARE HQ was an obvious choice of venue, and patients had voted in favour of an evening session from 7-9pm every two months.

The group had its first meeting in October 2012. The group members come from across the region, including Warwickshire, Gloucestershire and Ross. They have always specified that they would rather have interesting talks from topical speakers as they learn more from these, so at the beginning of each year I sit down with them and find out what they want to do for the year ahead. The ‘tea and chat’ is saved for when the session is over, and it’s normally quarter to ten before everyone leaves, as we all catch up on each other’s lives and progress. After six years, I’ve really got to know the members. We make sure the group isn’t all about diagnosis and illness, but instead focus on support, normality, and a bit of humour.

We’ve had numerous consultants from Worcestershire Royal Hospital’s Haematology department talk at the meetings, including Dr Shafiq, the consultant lead, a chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) specialist, a myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) specialist and a chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) specialist.

The group is mixed in terms of haematological diagnoses, with leukaemias, lymphomas, essential thrombocythemia, and MDS. As a result, I try to get speakers who can cover the varying types of blood cancer, as well as topics like nutrition.

One speaker who’s always been a hit with the group has been Leukaemia Care trustee and CML patient Kris Griffin. He’s a fantastic speaker and storyteller, and at a recent meeting a couple of new members said that Kris’ hilarious speech was just the tonic they needed to give them renewed strength to move forward.

Earlier this year, it was announced that the group had received a grant from ‘Carriers for Causes UK’ to fund a special evening. We’ve now teamed up with Red Hen, a Worcester cookery school, to host a ‘Masterchef’ style cookery evening, with tips on cooking for a neutropenic diet. We’re also planning to go to Hotel Chocolat for a ‘lock-in’.

I feel humbled at times during the meetings. Some members can walk in concerned, but after listening to speakers and talking to other members, it’s good to see them go home feeling uplifted. I admire their courage, and the ways in which they support one another. We simply provide a service that enables them to help each other.

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