PUBLISHED: 05:57 06 April 2015
Diagnosed with cancer in her 30s, Kathryn Dugdale-Evans’ search for practical and emotional support led her to launch her own charity group.
When Kathryn Dugdale-Evans was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 34, she learned first hand that the impact of the disease was more wide-reaching than she could ever have imagined. Struggling to find someone her own age to talk to about what she was going through, she discovered the national charity Shine Cancer Support on the internet and it inspired her to open a Norwich branch. Now she hopes to help those in the same situation.
“As a cancer patient myself I know only too well the devastating impact cancer has on your life and that it goes far beyond just the treatment. There is so much to think about, whether that is fertility issues, employment problems or relationships difficulties. It was eight months after my diagnoses before I met someone a similar age to me who had experienced a similar cancer journey,” says Kathryn, who lives in Taverham and works for a fostering agency.
She says although there are fantastic groups out there working with cancer patients, she felt none addressed her concerns and anxieties.
“I was diagnosed with bowel cancer and my support group was specifically for that type of cancer but with people who were a lot older and had very different needs. I felt I needed to talk with people of my own age who faced similar issues rather than focus on the type of cancer.”
Shine is the only charity in the UK which exclusively focuses on supporting men and women in their 20s, 30s and 40s with any type of cancer.
“My cancer diagnosis affected me hugely,” she says. “It impacted on my friends, my family, my career and my ability to have children, as well as the financial implications of not being able to work for certain periods. Should you tell a new employer about whether you have had cancer or not, will it effect your ability to get a job and how do you come to terms with the fact you might not be well enough to return to the career you once had. These are all things you want to talk about.”
Kathryn launched the Norwich Network in June last year and already has 10 members.
“The group has helped me so much, both emotionally and practically. We meet as friends now. There are certain scary conversations which are on your mind but you don’t feel you can have with your usual friends and family, and that’s what the group is wonderful for. It highlights the very real need for peer support in the region among young adults dealing with cancer.”
The group organises regular social activities, events, coffee mornings and weekends away as well as workshops and a mentoring service.
She adds: “Being part of Shine allows members to connect with others who have been through similar experiences and helps to combat the feelings of isolation and alienation that younger cancer patients often encounter.”
Email Kathryn at firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.shinecancersupport.co.uk.