“When you get diagnosed, you can feel lost and don’t know what to do.”
But members of Fylde Coast Breast Cancer Support Group are hoping to change that by providing solidarity to both men and women who have been affected by the illness.
The group meets monthly at The Cube in Poulton and now it has joined forces with the Macmillan team at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and the Hug in a Bag charity to help raise awareness. As part of its campaign to spread the word, Radio Wave hosted Live From Your Drive at founder Yvonne McConnell’s home in Poulton.
The 53-year-old was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago and has had a mastectomy and several reconstruction surgeries.
She said: “I feel very humble and pleased to be included on Live From Your Drive. All we want to do is get the word out that we are here. “People don’t realise there is a support group and there are people to talk to who are experiencing the same thing.
“We also want to get more men involved as the Fylde coast has the highest rate of breast cancer in men in the country.
“And if there are people from other areas, we are also there for you.”
The support group was initially set up by Macmillan at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, offering clinical advice, but was taken over by community members, led by Yvonne, last January as a more social-focused gathering, allowing members to enjoy themselves with people who have been through similar experiences. There are often speakers, as well as social trips out.
Yvonne added: “I could not afford for this group to disappear as I needed to people to talk to and give me advice. So with the help of another lady, I found a venue and we started meeting on the second Wednesday of every month at The Cube.”
Sharon Norton, 58, of Poulton, joined last year after she was diagnosed with breast cancer following a routine mammogram.
She said: “Whenever you go to any meetings about your cancer, it is very clinical. But this group is not clinical and is all about offering support to people through all stages of their recovery. People can dip in and out of the group if they are unwell and member check up on you to see if you are okay. Everyone is really supportive and it is helpful to speak to people who have been affected by the same thing as you.
“We want to make people aware of our group and we have had information stalls at supermarkets, such as Tesco in Blackpool and Morrisons in Kirkham.
“Our group is really beginning to thrive and we hold events for the group and invite guest speakers. For example we have had representatives from Marks and Spencer to discuss bras and swimwear and form Tropic Skincare as radiotherapy and chemotherapy can damage skin, We have had Age Concern visit, as if you have cancer, the charity can offer a grant.
“We also go out. Joanna’s Cheese and Wine Bar, in Bispham, organises quiz nights for Hug in a Bag, so we go sometimes.”
Members are also planning a calendar with the theme Life Goes On, to raise money for Hug in a Bag and Macmillan.
This is scheduled to be released later this year.
Fylde Coast Breast Cancer Support Group meets on the second Wednesday of the month at The Cube, Poulton, from 6.15pm until 8.15pm.