Celebrating a year of support for Northallerton breast cancer patients

Posted on in Support groups

Charity volunteers have celebrated a year of helping people in Northallerton facing hair loss after cancer treatment.Celebration photo HeadStrong

For many diagnosed with breast cancer, losing their hair can be one of the most traumatic parts of cancer treatment. It can have a devastating impact on confidence and self esteem.

This is why Breast Cancer Care has a unique hair loss advisory service, run collaboratively in Friarage Hospital with Macmillan Cancer Support. The appointments are held weekly and delivered by specially trained volunteers to offer practical and emotional support. The service is open to anyone at risk of losing their hair through any type of cancer treatment.

Pam Grimsditch, 65, from Ripon, was diagnosed with breast cancer almost 20 years ago and has been a volunteer at Northallerton HeadStrong since the service started.

“I know the impact a breast cancer diagnosis can have – so signed up straight away to volunteer once I heard about the new local HeadStrong service,” she said.

“When people arrive at their appointment they can often be anxious, uncertain and eager for support. We volunteers can offer tips, ideas and information to help them face what can be a really difficult time more knowledgably. It’s amazing to watch people leaving the session feeling far more confident about themselves and the whole situation.

“I find it extremely rewarding to be able to be there for others and to use my experience to be able to make a positive difference to someone’s life.”

The private HeadStrong sessions give patients the opportunity to come to a quiet room at the hospital and find out about how to tie headscarves and use hats and hair pieces. The volunteers also share tips about hair and scalp care before, during, and after treatment and talk through any worries patients may have.

Shelley Cooke-Fox, Regional Services Co-ordinator at Breast Cancer Care said: “Losing your hair as a result of cancer treatment can be a very upsetting experience, but one which we believe people shouldn’t have to face on their own. It’s down to the dedicated volunteers who’ve offered their time over the last year that we’ve been able to support many people with a cancer diagnosis. So a big thank you to them.

“I would urge anyone facing hair loss as a result of cancer treatment to get in touch and find out more about how HeadStrong can help them.”

HeadStrong is run on alternate Monday and Wednesday’s at Friarage Hospital. To book an appointment call the Macmillan Cancer Support and Information Centre at Friarage Hospital on 01609 764 033.

For more information about Breast Cancer Care’s HeadStrong service visit www.breastcancercare.org.uk/