Lizzie Sturm, Director of Advocacy in Barnet, tells us about her new, personal perspective, of the Cancer, Older People and Advocacy Programme.
Advocacy in Barnet (AIB) are really excited to be the newest OPAAL hub member to become a Macmillan partner. Three weeks ago we held interviews to recruit a volunteer coordinator for the Barnet Macmillan Advocacy Project. The Macmillan Involvement Coordinator (North and East London), experienced volunteer and myself comprised the panel, meeting a range of candidates and spending much of the day talking about cancer pathways. I hope that people will get to meet Alex Pinnick, the new Volunteer Coordinator who starts on 16 September over the next few months.
Strange how much irony there is in life! Within a few hours our conversations about cancer pathways became personally meaningful. My Mother (in her late 80’s) was diagnosed with lung cancer that evening. We’re now embarking on our own cancer journey with each participant experiencing their own unique impact and place in this.
It’s been a long three weeks with a myriad of emotions experienced and a lot of learning already. At every step of the way, my belief in the value of advocacy support to older people affected by cancer has been absolutely affirmed.
My parents are intelligent, articulate and independent people but they are immensely affected by this scary diagnosis and prognosis as are all the family. The medical team and nursing care have been superb but there are so many, many significant details and ramifications that need to be attended to. I am fortunate to be in a position where I can try to support them. Even as someone “fairly in the know”, there will definitely be times where I will flounder in this.
I can certainly bring in an unexpected and new perspective to the training of our Barnet Macmillan Advocacy Project. As I am sure other projects have encountered, the spectrum of issues that may require advocacy for an older person affected by cancer is enormous and I am delighted that our new Barnet Macmillan Advocacy Project will be able to make a difference.
Lizzie Sturm, Advocacy in Barnet