Last week I was honoured with an invitation to talk about the Chemo Chic project at a session of the LOCs* Living Well workshop.
Living Well is an aftercare programme offered by the hospital to anyone who has received cancer treatment there. I completed the programme myself last year and I cannot praise it highly enough. Each of the six sessions begins with an invigorating fitness workout lead by a very fit instructor. A fascinating variety of talks and workshops follow, each presented by a leading boffin in that field. Topics range from nutrition to meditation to exercise to psychosexual health to the latest breakthroughs in genetic treatments for cancer. The sessions conclude at lunchtime with a fresh, delicious, nutritious lunch prepared with love by chef Kevin Fine.
The course leader, Dr Michelle Kohn, runs the show with infectious energy and enthusiasm for her work as well as a genuine empathy for every person in the room.
It is riveting stuff – informative and practical to be sure. But, above all of that, attending the Living Well workshops made me feel that the hospital really did have my best interests at heart. I was not merely trundling through treatment on a ‘cancer conveyor belt’. In short, I felt cared for.
Dr Kohn’s understanding that the trauma of living with cancer continues long after the medical treatment has ended represents a humanitarian breakthrough in care. I can only hope that one day this kind of programme will be available in every hospital up and down the land.
If you have come across a fabulous cancer aftercare programme, please share it with us.