Learn how to live well with cancer

This Saturday, up to 500 cancer patients, survivors and supporters will attend the Living Well with Cancer conference, in Cork, writes the Irish Cancer Society’s Joan Kelly
Learn how to live well with cancer

Attendees at the Survivorship Conference will be offered the opportunity to engage with cancer experts with a particular emphasis on the emotional and psychological effects of cancer and keeping well into the future.

THE Irish Cancer Society’s annual free conference for cancer survivors and their families, entitled Living Well with Cancer, takes place in Cork on Saturday September 22 at the Clayton Hotel, Silver Springs. Up to 500 cancer patients, survivors and their supporters, will travel to Cork to attend this unique event. Attendance is free of charge but you must register in advance.

Now in its 25th year, this event is an essential part of the Irish Cancer Society’s work. It allows us to share stories, learn about new issues and most importantly, support each other in the process.

More than 165,000 people are now living with or beyond cancer in Ireland and there is a growing need to understand and recognise the life-changing implications that a cancer diagnosis can have for both the patient and their loved ones.

Attendees at the Survivorship Conference will be offered the opportunity to engage with cancer experts with a particular emphasis on the emotional and psychological effects of cancer and keeping well into the future. Bringing survivors together so that they may befriend and support each other is a powerful way of improving the lives of those living with cancer.

Workshops on the day include: Practical Mindfulness for Daily Living, Managing Fatigue and Concentration Challenges, Exercise after a Cancer Diagnosis, Improving Self Confidence, Why Eating Well Matters for Cancer Patients and Survivors, Social Welfare Payments and Returning to Work after a Cancer Diagnosis.

Dr Derek Power, Consultant Medical Oncologist at the Mercy and Cork University Hospital, will discuss the progress that has been made in the drug treatment of cancer and how outcomes have improved for many patients. He will also outline the reasons why some patients do not benefit from the newer treatments and how the side-effects of cancer treatment can be managed.

The Look Good Feel Better team will demonstrate a full skincare and beauty routine paying particular attention to the needs of those dealing with the visible side effects of cancer treatment. Look Good Feel Better is a charity whose unique programme of free skincare and make-up workshops is available in 16 hospitals around Ireland.

Emer O’Neill, Physiotherapist at Bon Secours Hospital, will conduct a workshop on the importance of exercise after a cancer diagnosis. Regular physical activity helps to protect against some types of cancer coming back and other types of cancer developing. There is clear evidence to tell us that physical activity and exercise can reduce your risk of breast, bowel and womb cancer. It may also help prevent lung cancer.

There are also many other benefits to being active. Physical activity helps to reduce the symptoms of fatigue, the side-effects of cancer treatments, and improves your overall wellbeing and heart health. Physical activity also encourages your body to release endorphins. These are often called ‘feel-good hormones’. When released, they can lift your mood and sense of wellbeing.

After a cancer diagnosis, many people want to make positive changes to their lives. Taking steps to live a healthier lifestyle can be a big part of these changes.

Being told that your treatment has been successful and you are free from cancer is wonderful news. Finishing treatment does not mean the end of your cancer journey, though. It can take some time for you to return to a more normal life and for your body and mind to recover.

The end of treatment is a time when people often expect to feel relieved, happy and able to get on with life again. But it isn’t unusual to feel quite low and lost, especially during the first few months.

After any serious illness, people may face practical problems such as financial issues, returning to work and life insurance.

The Citizen’s Information workshop at the Conference will give an overview of the social welfare payments that cancer patients and survivors are entitled to. It will also cover how to manage these entitlements on returning to work and give participants the opportunity to ask questions about their own circumstances.

At the Irish Cancer Society we aim to provide quality practical support to people who are affected by cancer and their friends and family. Our services are available free of charge through our Cancer Nurseline, where cancer nurses are available to speak to anyone with a concern about cancer; 13 Daffodil Centres in hospitals across the country offering information and support; Financial Support programmes; Counselling services which we fund in local cancer support centres, an extensive range of books and leaflets and a free night nursing service for patients who have come to the end of their cancer journey.

The National Conference for Cancer Survivorship is a key date in our calendar and we would encourage cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones to attend this special event. For more information or to register to attend the conference visit: www.cancer.ie/living- well email support@irishcancer.ie or call our Cancer Nurseline on 1800 200 700.

Joan Kelly, is the Cancer Support Manager, with the Irish Cancer Society.

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