A Stonehaven man with incurable cancer has praised a local charity for helping him feel less overwhelmed and encouraged people to support its latest appeal.
Graham Shanks was diagnosed with prostate cancer in Spring 2018 and after a series of tests, was told shortly afterwards that the cancer was incurable.
After much encouragement from a friend, Graham joined the walking group at CLAN Cancer support and soon found that spending time with people who were going through the same as he was, made a real difference to how he was feeling.
He said: “As a ‘typical north-east man’, I didn’t think I needed much in the way of help and support. I just wanted to live as good a quality of life as I could in the time I have.
“However, a friend of mine who volunteers at CLAN House in Aberdeen felt differently and after several unsuccessful attempts she eventually persuaded me to join the Friday walking group.
“I don’t readily talk about my feelings, so I didn’t think it was for me, but I decided to go along and see what it was about.
“I was really pleased to find that the group is very informal and relaxed, and we had a walk around the local area. Some people spoke about their cancer diagnosis, but some didn’t and there was no pressure to do either. Quickly, I realised that this was a group of people who really understood how I was feeling and what I had been am going through, which made it easy to talk.”
The CLAN walking group normally takes place every Friday from CLAN House in Aberdeen. The group is free for anyone to join who is affected by cancer, whether the person has a diagnosis themselves or if they have a friend or relative affected. The group walks around the local area and then returns to CLAN House for tea and coffee. Currently, CLAN activities are on hold due to the coronavirus.
Mr Shanks added: “When you are first diagnosed with cancer you can feel overwhelmed. However, sharing your thoughts and fears with people who truly understand what you are going through is a real benefit.
The walking group and other support offered by CLAN Cancer Support such as art therapy, counselling, reflexology and other alternative therapies have been very important in helping him ensure a good quality of life.
Mr Shanks said: “If it weren’t for CLAN, I would find some days a lot harder. I am lucky to have a wife and family, but many cancer patients don’t have that, and CLAN is one of the places they can be guaranteed to get help and support with every visit. Without CLAN, there would be a huge gap in support available for people affected by cancer and those around them.
“It is very sad that CLAN’s fundraising events have had to be cancelled as the charity needs over £2.5million per year to provide its services, so I encourage everyone to give to the Here for You appeal.
“It is important that CLAN is there and also that it continues to grow, making its support available to more and more people.”
Dr Colette Backwell, CLAN’s chief executive added: “We are very grateful for Graham’s kind comments and his support for our Here for You appeal. CLAN is often the first place people come to when they have a cancer diagnosis, but for others like Graham, it can take time to realise that talking to people in the same position as you can really help.
“We are grateful to Graham for getting behind our Here for You appeal, helping us to ensure that CLAN is here and will continue to be here for cancer patients and their families.
“While some of our services have been postponed due to the requirement for social distancing, CLAN continues to provide this vital support by telephone, videocall and through our online resource centre, but at the same time we have made huge losses financially. We really implore the people of the north and north-east to donate £10 or whatever they can to help us ensure that CLAN is there for more people like Graham, now and into the future.”
Stay up to date on with Clan on our social media channels
Clan offers free support to anyone affected by cancer in north-east Scotland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland. Please help support us.
Sign up to receive our regular newsletter where you will find a mix of news and information from across all areas.