It’s World Cancer Day on Tuesday February 4 and FORCE Cancer Charity is using the date to raise awareness of the importance of local support.
There are 1.2 million people living in Devon and every year an estimated 8,000 of the county’s residents will get a cancer diagnosis.
One in two people will get cancer in their lifetime – a statistic that has the power to shock and scare. If it’s not you, it will be a member of your family, a friend or colleague.
FORCE (Friends of the Oncology and Radiotherapy Centre Exeter) is about supporting local people living with cancer.
“We want people in Devon to know that when cancer turns their life upside down, we’re here to help,” said FORCE Chief Executive Meriel Fishwick (pictured).
She added: “We are passionate in our belief that professional support – face-to-face, close to home and free of charge – is what everyone affected by cancer deserves.
“The value of having someone to sit down and talk to when a cancer diagnosis rocks your world cannot be underestimated.
“We’re right here helping patients and their loved ones across Devon because we recognise how important it is to make those personal connections.”
FORCE has a Cancer Support and Information Centre in the grounds of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital that gets more than 20,000 visits a year from people seeking physical, emotional, psychological and practical help.
Travelling to Wonford and parking when you get there can be a deterrent to accessing desperately needed support.
So FORCE now takes its services to more people closer to where they live at weekly outreach programmes in Okehampton, Tiverton and Honiton.
The charity has enhanced that support even further by funding chemotherapy in the community too.
FORCE pays for specialist nurses from the RD&E oncology department to deliver treatment in Okehampton, Tiverton and Honiton to patients who are eligible to receive their chemo away from the main acute hospital.
“The feedback from those communities has been heartening and the numbers using our FORCE@ services are increasing so we know it is the right thing to do,” said Mrs Fishwick.
“Reduced travel time, easier parking and less time waiting for treatment in the busy Exeter chemo unit has been a real bonus to so many people. We know because they tell us!”
As part of FORCE’s pledge to meet the rapidly changing demands of helping people living with and beyond cancer, it has expanded and developed its services, including the offer of more support to children and families, an increased cancer rehabilitation programme and special bereavement days.
Alongside meeting the holistic needs of cancer patients and their loved ones, FORCE also continues to fund research as well as equipment to improve diagnosis and treatment.
Since it was founded in 1987, it has spent more than £2million on local research programmes and equipment to improve patient care at the RD&E.
That’s on top of more than £10million that has gone into the charity’s programme of support services from counselling to complementary therapies.
All this is done without any Government or NHS funding. Support from the communities it serves, including businesses that recognise the benefits of backing a local charity, makes all of it possible.
“People in Devon are incredibly generous when it comes to supporting cancer charities and by backing FORCE, they can be sure that their money is spent helping the ones they care most about right here where they live,” said Mrs Fishwick.
To mark the World Cancer Day initiative that highlights the global impact of the disease, FORCE will be in Exeter’s Princesshay from 10am until 4pm on Tuesday February 4 to offer information and advice.
We have also launched a Text Giving Campaign to help us further our commitment to improving the lives of local people affected by cancer.
Text FORCE to 70085 to donate £3 and support people affected by cancer where you live and work. Text FORCE5 to give a fiver, FORCE10 to make it a tenner and so on up to £20. Give what you can on World Cancer Day.