Moving On – 10 year anniversary for Breast Cancer rehab group

Moving On – 10 year anniversary for Breast Cancer rehab group
Lynette Ford, Dr Chris Ward, and Rita Stoneman

Published: 18 August 2016

Torbay and South Devon’s ‘Moving On’ breast cancer rehabilitation group has just marked its ten year anniversary with a celebration tea party for patients and staff.

Around 190 past patients attended the event at Totnes Civic Hall with Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust staff and volunteers on Monday 15 August. The celebration included tea and cakes, a raffle, and activities to explore the benefits of the group and to share experiences. The raffle raised £371 which will be used to make improvements to the Breast Care Unit.

The Moving On group is for women who have recently finished treatment for breast cancer. It was started in 2006 by Dr Christine Ward, Macmillan Clinical and Community Psychologist at Torbay Hospital’s The Lodge Cancer Centre, together with Mrs Lynette Ford, Breast Care Specialist Nurse, and Mrs Rita Stoneman, retired Breast Care Specialist Nurse.

Dr Ward said: “During the cancer journey, people have to make many difficult transitions and adjustments to their lives and self-image. Sometimes the transition from the role of ‘person with cancer’ to one of ‘person who has survived cancer’ can be the most demanding and difficult of all these transitions.

“The end of treatment is often the beginning of a time of immense vulnerability when time and space is needed to process the meaning of what has happened in a safe and supported environment, which is exactly what the Moving On group provides. It takes a self-management approach and teaches skills and strategies to enable the patients to manage situations more effectively and enhance their sense of well-being. There is also a strong emphasis on shared experiences and mutual support.”

Speaking at the event, former Moving On group member, Linda Kell, said: “The care, dedication and commitment of the Moving On group and Breast Care Unit staff and volunteers is second to none. I know from speaking with people in other parts of the country that this group is unique and I feel very lucky that we have such an outstanding service here in South Devon.”

Another former member Iris Mayo added: “People in the group are often at different stages of their treatment and will all have had varying experiences but sharing those experiences helps to make you feel less isolated and more ‘normal’. There have been plenty of tears in the group, but more importantly lots of laughter – I would highly recommend it.”

Some feedback given anonymously by another group member included the following comments: “When I was asked if I would like to attend our group to help women cope with breast cancer and move on, I couldn’t see how I could benefit from it. How wrong I was, every week we had a discussion on different subjects, thoughts, emotions, stress and cancer. The word cancer still makes me freeze but I can honestly say it has helped me and I am now beginning to see the glass half full instead of half empty.

“Thank you for digging me out of the deepest depression. Yes, there is still underlying fear but now I feel able to cope with situations and have more confidence and a positive outlook for the future.”

Evaluation consistently shows a reduction in anxiety and depression over the course of the group and an increase in confidence for using skills and strategies to cope. Many of the ladies continue to meet informally on a social basis for many years after their groups have finished and the group was cited in the Department of Health document ‘National Cancer Survivorship Initiative: Vision’ (2010) as an example of good practice.