Penny shares her story of providing innovative initiatives for women affected by cancer in Dumfries and Galloway.
I particularly enjoy the work I am doing with a community of local women affected by cancer. I can share their sense of identity as I myself have had extensive treatment for breast cancer and at one time could not see my life beyond cancer.
I know how isolated and lonely one can become, particularly emotionally, and how companionship of my peers was what I longed for. There is an overwhelming amount of information about cancer on the internet, but it is impersonal. Helplines are available but do not offer the comfort and support of human contact. I knew that if local women affected by cancer could meet, with the support of our NHS, we could start to change things for the better and this is what’s happening with Wigtownshire Women and Cancer.
All of this is an example of what we call co-production, of the health service listening to the needs of people and working together.
So we held an Afternoon Tea, invited women, shared information and talked to everyone during their tea and cake to ask them what was important to them. The Health and Social Care Partnership supported the event.
We set up pamper sessions for women with our local college, a fantastic lady who is a seamstress has offered to sew pockets in bras and swimsuits for women who have had mastectomies and our big project is a major fashion show.
We decided to hold regular PositviTea Parties and rotate around the district. This will enable us to gather feedback regarding experiences and share with the NHS to change services.
The Tea Parties are the key to bringing us together and I am hoping that we see PositiviTea Parties across our region. We are a community of women who exist to empower women and improve Health and Social Care services.