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12 February 2013, 06:09
Macmillan Cancer Support says one in three people in Norfolk and Suffolk diagnosed with cancer are having to face it alone.
The Facing the Fight Alone report – which looks at the number, profile and experiences of isolated people living with cancer across the UK, found that the detrimental effects of isolation on the lives of people living with cancer are far-reaching.
More than half of isolated patients have skipped meals or not eaten properly due to a lack of support at home.
More than one in four have not been able to wash themselves properly, while three in five have been unable to do household chores.
Macmillan found isolation is also making it harder for people to fight the disease. Over one in ten have missed appointments to hospital or their GP, while one in six have been unable to pick up prescriptions for their medication.
Jay Harley from Diss, Norfolk was diagnosed with kidney cancer and now has liver secondaries.
“Where we live we’re not close to family. We left most of our friends behind in the North when we moved here from the Manchester area. I’d only been here about six months when I got the first diagnosis. I think people in rural areas have it tougher. When I was living where we were the hospital was a ten-minute drive away and there was a lot of support available locally … but here, it is a 50-mile trip, you’ve got the extra stress when you’re not feeling well of parking at the hospital and the bus routes are terrible. Obviously people were really concerned. But initially I felt as though I had to support them. I found that I was kind of spending my energy supporting them, rather than it being the other way round. They wouldn’t talk about it. I just had to say people: “I don’t want your sympathy – I need your strength to get through it.” They found it really difficult.”
Jay set up a support group to help others. If you're looking for help and support after being diagnosed with cancer you can contact her on:
Hear the full interview with Jay: