A unique new charity officially launched today, providing vital mental health support to current and former cancer patients living across East Anglia who were diagnosed from birth to 29 years-old.
Despite launching in the midst of a pandemic, Mind Over Cancer hopes to support 1,250 people across East Anglia within the next 12 months and has unveiled an initial £50,000 fundraising target to help deliver this essential support.
Around 18 children, teenagers and young adults aged 0 to 29 years-old are diagnosed with cancer every day across the UK and approximately 1 in 4 people across the UK experience a mental health problem each year. Throwing cancer into the mix means it is inevitable mental health will suffer.
Set-up by experts who have treated and supported children, teenagers and young adults diagnosed with cancer, the team spotted the lack of mental health provision through the NHS for those diagnosed when young and the difficulty of accessing these limited services and long waiting times.
Mind Over Cancer enables anyone diagnosed with cancer from a baby to 29 years-old to have access to ten free counselling sessions and a Mental Health and Wellbeing Support Programme for one year. Uniquely, support is extended to the patient’s family, friends and partners, as all can be negatively affected by a diagnosis, with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety often experienced.
Sessions are delivered online or over the phone rather than face-to-face to enable support to be actioned quicker and is managed by JHD Counselling. Counselling can be one-to-one as well as couples therapy if requested and will be matched carefully depending on the individual’s needs.
The Mental Health and Wellbeing Support Programme is monthly group support, designed to teach, share and support the mental health of family, friends and partners affected by someone close to them who was diagnosed or died of cancer when they were young.
Luke and Ella Bordoli-Marsh, both 29, from Suffolk, are two people who feel they would have benefitted if Mind Over Cancer had been established when Luke was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2009 at the age of 17. Luke comments: “I was in my first year of sixth-form college in Cambridge when I started to get limitations in my left shoulder to the point where I couldn’t lift my arm above my head and then started to get pain in my lower back. After seeing several GPs and then an X-ray and scans in hospital they saw my lower vertebrae in my spine was almost disintegrated due to cancer. Surgery and chemotherapy followed immediately, along with painful lumbar punctures.
“My treatment finished in 2010 and I went to university but there were moments there where I would remember what I had gone through and how I never really gave myself a break from when treatment finished. Those times were upsetting and overwhelming for me. Around two years later I received a short period of counselling for what I went through, but even that felt rushed and not greatly beneficial. I wish I had access to psychological support at a time when I needed it. You’ll never know when you need it, it could be later after treatment and that’s why Mind Over Cancer is so important, providing experienced support and advice whenever required.”
Ella comments: “I remember that day at sixth-form so clearly when I got the call from Luke saying how they thought it might be cancer. I was by myself and remember walking to get picked up by my mum in complete shock. The six-months that followed were a whirlwind of surgery and chemo appointments, studying for our A-Level exams and somehow trying to have a semi-normal relationship. At the time we just soldiered through but looking back I have no idea how I managed to complete my A-Levels while going through all the emotions that came seeing the person I loved going through cancer treatment, and if they would get better or not.
“It was a few years later when I was at university that the magnitude of what Luke and I had been through hit me. I seemed to be dealing with everything much worse than everyone else and felt so guilty and stupid; I was the one who was struggling when Luke and others had seemingly moved on from it all. It was at that time I reached out to my GP and was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder with some symptoms of PTSD. Since then, I’ve had a few different types of therapy and counselling to help me deal with my anxiety. I now realise I never needed to feel guilty or weak for struggling to deal with the experiences of what happened to me when I was a teenager.”
Susie Shaw, Founder and Chief Executive of Mind Over Cancer said: “The NHS does a brilliant job medically treating cancer patients but is under-resourced, with immense demand and pressure placed on them, which has only been exacerbated due to the pandemic. Mind Over Cancer has been set-up to bridge the gap, providing immediate mental health support through our counselling and Mental Health and Wellbeing Support Programme.
“A cancer diagnosis can be devastating, not just for the person who has to face it but also for their family and friends who are there through the highs and lows. This trauma can stay through life, affecting all areas of their personal and working life and we are here to provide a safe space and additional emotional support.”
Mind Over Cancer will work collaboratively with other mental health and cancer charities, to identify individuals and their families and friends who need this much needed immediate support. However, self-referrals can also be made via its website. The charity’s long-term future ambition is to expand outside of East Anglia and offer the same mental health support to other counties across England and eventually become nationwide, opening up in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
To reach Mind Over Cancer’s target of supporting 1,250 people across East Anglia within the next 12 months, the charity is asking local communities, businesses, individuals and charitable Trusts and Foundations to consider donating and fundraising for them to help reach its initial £50,000 fundraising target. The charity is also calling for volunteers who can help fundraise and spread the word. To donate or for more information on how to access its services visit www.mindovercancer.org.uk or email email@example.com or phone 07485 767281. You can also donate* £10 via text by texting the word 10OVERCANCER to 70085.
For press information please contact Sarah Henderson on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0777 3579949
Notes to editors:
*’Texts cost £10 plus one standard rate message and you’ll be opting in to hear more about our work and fundraising via telephone and SMS. If you’d like to give £10 but do not wish to receive marketing communications text 10OVERCANCERNOINFO to 70085.
About Mind Over Cancer
Mind Over Cancer provides vital mental health support to current and former cancer patients from across East Anglia who were diagnosed from birth to 29 years-old. Around 12 children and young people aged 0 to 24 years-old are diagnosed with cancer every day across the UK and approximately 1 in 4 people across the UK experience a mental health problem each year. Throwing a cancer diagnosis into the mix means it is inevitable mental health will suffer. Set-up by experts who have treated and supported children, teenagers and young adults diagnosed with cancer, the team spotted the lack of mental health provision for those diagnosed when young and the difficulty of accessing these limited services and long waiting times. Mind Over Cancer enables access to ten free counselling sessions and an online Mental Health and Wellbeing Support Programme for one year. Uniquely, support is extended to the patient’s family, friends and partners, as all can be negatively affected, with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety often reported. For further information visit www.mindovercancer.org.uk or email email@example.com or phone 07485 767281. Follow on social media on Twitter @mindovercancer1, Facebook: Mind Over Cancer, Instagram: @mindovercancer Linkedin: Mind Over Cancer #MindOverCancer. Registered charity: 1192034