Cancer and Dr You

Who amongst us hasn’t chuckled at the advert with the man being encouraged to take the simple 5 minute home-screening bowel test, whilst sat on his ‘cludgie’? 

This advert is part of the national Detect Cancer Early campaign, which has also worked with Elaine C. Smith, promoting the importance of being breast aware, and Sir Alex Ferguson, encouraging those with a cough that sounds different, or if their cough changes in any way, to visit their GP to check against lung cancer.

Whilst these adverts are aimed at being amusing, informative, and thought-provoking, they are ultimately made to serve a purpose - to help each of us recognise the importance of detecting cancer early, and keep us in good health for longer.

Within our own islands, NHS Western Isles has worked over the last few years with local cancer survivors, using their personal stories to get the Detect Cancer Early message across.

Local cancer survivors such as Don MacLean from Lewis, who had stomach cancer, and Tom Rankin from Uist and Rob Daly from Barra, who both had bowel cancer, were keen to share their unique stories. 

Each of their stories informed us of the symptoms they experienced before seeking treatment from their GP, before taking us through the scans and tests before diagnosis, the treatments they then received, and their recovery.

Catherine MacLeod from Lewis also shared her experience of being diagnosed with breast cancer after attending routine breast screening, and encouraged more women to attend the mobile breast cancer screening unit after the affected cells detected were no larger than ‘grains of sand’. 

With each of these brave stories, it has been wonderful to read how they have all faced up to cancer and its treatment, and gone on to enjoy their lives, as well as taking up the activities they enjoyed before being diagnosed with cancer.

The recently launched ‘Dr You’ service, which offers a wide range of self-help books in the Western Isles, features a range of cancer titles. 

Each book within the ‘Dr You’ cancer topic sets out to help patients and families cope with cancer, and the increasingly complex treatment options available to them.  The titles also focus on the emotional, spiritual and psychological needs, as well as the physical needs, to help better understanding for those diagnosed with cancer, as well as their family, friends and carers.

Cancer titles featured in the ‘Dr You’ collection include:

Coping with the Psychological Effects of Cancer (Overcoming Common Problems), which recognises the emotional aspect of having cancer, and survivorship.  This book tackles the topic in an upfront and practical way that acknowledges the uncomfortable and painful emotions associated with cancer.  This includes: the emotional impact of cancer; coping with distressing thoughts and feelings; changing unhelpful behaviours and learning to relax; family and couple relationships; coping with advanced and terminal illness. 

Coping with Chemotherapy explains what chemotherapy treatment is, how the drugs work, and different ways in which they can be given. It also explains how to tackle side effects such as sickness, tiredness and hair loss. Newly revised, this edition also looks at the growth in importance of hormonal treatments, and of targeted therapies, drugs which attack specific abnormalities on cancer cells. The advice on money matters has also been updated and expanded.

Another title, Cancer in Our Family: Helping Children Cope with a Parent's Illness, is aimed at children when a parent has been diagnosed with cancer.  This time can be extremely stressful for children, whether they're toddlers or teenagers, and this helpful, calming guide teaches parents how to talk to children and help allay their fears.  It also provides information about the diagnosis, treatment, potential recurrences of the illness, and terminal illness.

‘Dr You’ is available at your local branch library or via your mobile library – and remember, if a book you want isn’t available at your local or mobile library, you can always request it, either from a member of staff, or online through the library catalogue.  For further information, please visit www.cne-siar.gov.uk/library or contact your local public library.