Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

How are we doing?

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Why would someone volunteer to be a cancer advocate?

I have a lot of interest in older people because I was the main carer for my mother  who died in 2011 and I really wanted to give something back to [host organisation] because they had been absolutely tremendous in looking after her… It was like a bit of repayment. I also wanted to make good use of my time and use a lot of the skills and the assets I have from my workplace. I’ve also been affected by cancer and lost relatives and very close friends – so I can relate to a lot of the issues that people have and some of the unfairness that happens… I’m not afraid to challenge. That’s the kind of thing people haven’t got when they have an illness. All those strengths are taken out because of the day to day – the appointments, the pain, the personal issues they have to deal with. But people have got their pride, they’ve got their dignity and I think they deserve better.   Advocate

This quote is taken from  the recently published report from TwoCan Associates on how our Older People Living with Cancer pilot project is doing. The recruitment of volunteer advocates has been a real success story.

Not everything has gone smoothly however. For instance, did you know we’ve met with quite a lot of resistance from health care professionals. Many are unsure what advocacy is and seem to think it’s intended to challenge them.

That was a difficult session, particularly because there were three consultants in the room. The consultants were quite apprehensive really, I would say, about me being there… One of them actually did ask what my role was, which I explained. I emphasised that my role was not to make decisions for my client. It was to help him to understand the situation, what was on offer, to help him to make some informed choices, and decisions about his treatment and that was OK after that.   Advocate

You can find out more about how we’re progressing by reading the evaluation report. It can be found by scrolling down on OPAAL’s website homepage which is here

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Author: Marie McWilliams

OPAAL's National Development Officer

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