Cancer patients helped by Macmillan speak out ahead of the charity’s Brighton Takeover Day

Macmillan supporters are taking to the streets tomorrow for Brighton Takeover Day, supported by more than 40 businesses.

Collection points are being set up across the city, including Brighton railway station, Churchill Square Shopping Centre and the Palace Pier, on Thursday, June 13.

Drama teacher Lesley Graney from Shoreham Beach

Drama teacher Lesley Graney from Shoreham Beach

More than 100 fundraisers will be collecting to support services such as the Macmillan Horizon Centre in Brighton and the many specialist Macmillan nurses and health care professionals who work within the NHS, including at Worthing Hospital.

Around 30 people every day are diagnosed with cancer in Sussex and some of those affected have spoken of their experiences.

Drama teacher Lesley Graney from Shoreham Beach had treatable breast cancer but was referred to Macmillan Horizon Centre when she was diagnosed with incurable secondary cancer.

The devastating diagnosis came just after she had resigned from her job at Durrington High School in Worthing to go travelling around the world with her husband John Rice and their two children.

Tracy Eaton was supported by specialists at Worthing Hospital

Tracy Eaton was supported by specialists at Worthing Hospital

After she heard the news, she ran straight into the sea with her family.

Lesley, 47, said: “It’s so complicated what I was going through. To have my dreams taken away is beyond devastating. I felt deeply depressed at one point.

“I was sent to the Macmillan Horizon Centre and met Nikki Kettley, the information services manager, who suggested counselling.

“John and I had 12 individual counselling sessions with the volunteers, which provided a chance to talk and a safe space to process what we were going through.

Miranda Jose is a Macmillan clinical cancer support worker based at Worthing Hospital

Miranda Jose is a Macmillan clinical cancer support worker based at Worthing Hospital

“I also had acupuncture to help with hot flushes and fatigue, the side effects of my treatment. We spoke to a welfare benefits adviser to get some financial advice and reassurance and together we did a mindfulness course to learn coping techniques.”

The family created a show called Random Acts of Nonsense, which had its debut at the Brighton Fringe Festival and raised money for the Macmillan Horizon Centre, where it was performed.

Lesley said: “The show was conceived to create moments where you can be like kids and do daft things so kids have joy in their life.

“The Horizon Centre has been brilliant and Macmillan are amazing. We were so pleased we could raise some money for the centre that has done so much for us.”

Tracy Eaton was supported by specialists at Worthing Hospital when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in July last year.

She said: “It was an enormous, life-changing shock to be told I had breast cancer as a fit and healthy 50-year-old. It made me face my mortality and current and future heath fears.

“But I got immediate support from Macmillan clinical nurse specialists in the Worthing breast cancer team, who provided amazing care and expert information during this frightening time. They were always there for me when I felt fragile.”

Tracy, from Brighton, had surgery in August, chemotherapy until December and finished radiotherapy in February. She now she has to take herceptin and tamoxifen to manage her aggressive form of cancer.

Tracy said: “The drugs cause acute pain in my knees and hips. I often can’t walk up and down stairs or even sit down. I also have night sweats, waves of heat washing over my body, leading to sleep deprivation.”

A keen runner before her diagnosis, Tracy started a course of acupuncture at the Macmillan Horizon Centre in Brighton, which lessened her symptoms. She also joined the Brighter Outlook programme, run at the centre by Albion in the Community, and having regained her confidence to run again, she completed the Brighton Marathon in April.

Tracy said: “It means so much to me, to have positive connections with friends that can identify with each other, who are open and easy to talk to about what happening.”

Miranda Jose is a Macmillan clinical cancer support worker based at Worthing Hospital, working for Western Sussex Hospital NHS Trust. She provides crucial support to the clinical nurse specialist team, so they have more time to spend with patients and share their knowledge with consultants.

Often the first person patients speaks to, Miranda takes the time to understand their needs, refers them to other services such as counselling or welfare benefits, and holds clinics to meet the emotional and practical needs of people living with cancer.

Miranda said: “We find that sometimes all the patient really needed was a shoulder to cry on and this can have a really beneficial impact on patients and carers.

“Some of the issues we come across can be traumatic and distressing and we are lucky to not only have an excellent service for our patients, but a great support network for us, too.

“I love supporting our Macmillan clinical nurse specialists so that they can provide the best care for our patients. I am passionate about supporting our patients and those around them, and putting them first. It’s very satisfying to take some of the practical worries and strains from them and make sure they know they have a large supportive network around them.

“Having Macmillan behind us means that we can help patients through what is often a distressing diagnosis, put them in touch with the right people and empower them with the supportive tools to face whatever cancer throws their way.”