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HOPE – moving forward following treatment

For many people, getting back to normal life following treatment for cancer can be difficult. The LJMC is proud to offer the HOPE – Help Overcoming Problems Effectively – self-management course. Over the course of six weekly sessions, participants are introduced to a range of techniques and strategies to help them move forward.

Initially devised by Coventry University and Macmillan Cancer Support, the HOPE course is run by two specially trained facilitators. We are working to run the courses on a rolling programme throughout the year and each course may have up to twelve participants.

Each session is structured and, over the duration of the course, participants will look at some of the practical and emotional issues associated with a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Working in small groups, participants are encouraged to find solutions, supporting each other in a completely safe and confidential environment where each person's experience is valid.

Each session includes time for setting goals and help is given to set goals that are realistic and achievable.

Coping with fatigue, healthy lifestyles and managing relationships are covered during the course, as are emotional issues such as the fear of the cancer recurring.

Participants are also given techniques for identifying their strengths, prioritising and becoming more positive. They are encouraged to keep a Gratitude Diary to record anything for which they are grateful and to look for the positive, even in trying circumstances.

HOPE - Help Overcoming Problems Effectively


One of the participants from a HOPE course that ran earlier this year talked to us about the course and what she gained from it.

Following eight months of treatment for breast cancer, I came to the LJMC for one of the relaxation classes.

I was in a state of limbo, with my treatment over but not yet ready to go back to work. I'd got over the shock of the diagnosis but was struggling with making sense of the whole experience and trying to find the next step.

Counselling had helped a bit but there was still a bit of the jigsaw missing and, although I'd thought about going to a support group, I didn't feel this would be right for me.

The HOPE leaflet I picked up in the Drop-in centre looked interesting although I was a little sceptical, worried that it would be American in style with endless group hugs. Fortunately, a member of the LJMC team talked to me about the course and invited me to come along to try it for myself. A course was starting very soon and she assured me that, if I didn't like it, I wouldn't be under any pressure to come back.

Knowing I had a potential escape route planned really helped me make up my mind to give the course a go.

There were just a few of us on the course so we got to know each other quickly. The others were at different stages of their cancer journey but this didn't matter and the small group setting was helpful.

We covered a wide range of issues which were practical and based in reality. Together we came up with suggestions for each other.

One of the most useful things I learned was to keep a Gratitude Diary. I didn't keep a physical, written account but used this as a technique to look at things more positively. I'd find myself pausing during the day, reflecting on what had happened and being thankful for just one thing, sometimes something very small. This really helped me put things in perspective.

Learning about our limits was also useful. I work in a busy, pressurised environment so it's not easy to control the stresses but I learned useful techniques for pacing myself including asking for help.

Although the idea of committing myself to the weekly sessions seemed a big step at the beginning, it actually became really useful. One of my goals was to get back to going to the gym but I was struggling with fatigue. By getting up in the morning and coming to the course, I'd get to lunchtime and realise what I'd achieved. This gave me confidence that I could do more.

For me, the course came at just the right time and I got more out of it than I ever imagined. I've made some wonderful friends and learned techniques that I will be able to use for the rest of my life.

 

 

 

Last updated: November 20, 2013

If you'd like to find out more about HOPE, please call the LJMC Helpline on 01923 844014. There is no charge for the course.

We also run HOPE for Carers and you can find out more about this from the Helpline as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article first appeared in the Autumn 2013 issue of the LJMC newsletter, Open Door.