August 6, 2008

Salmond Praises Cancer Care Centre’s Work in Rural Areas


THE First Minister yesterday visited the Maggie's Centre in Inverness to launch a new programme of support for people who have cancer in remote and rural areas .

Alex Salmond had come to lend his backing to the new three-day programme which the centre will pilot in October. Ten people who have or have had cancer will come to Inverness for three days to follow the programme which will offer instruction in expressive writing, stress management, yoga, nutrition, relaxation and visualisation.

It is particularly designed to help those who have left hospital and gone home, where they often find it difficult to come to terms with what they have been through. The unusual building beside Raigmore Hospital has won prestigious architectural awards and yesterday it also won the First Minister's approval.

Mr Salmond said: "Cancer will affect us all at some point in our lives, whether as a patient, carer, friend or family, and this is why Maggie's has such a valuable role in providing information, psychological and emotional support in partnership with local NHS boards. Around 27,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in Scotland each year, which is why this disease has a national clinical priority for the Scottish Government.

"I am delighted to help Maggie's Highland launch their three-day programme which offers support for those living in remote and rural areas."

Up to 2000 people are diagnosed with cancer in the area the Maggie's Highland centre covers in the Highlands, Western Isles, Orkney and west Moray. In the past year some 4500 people have come through the centre's doors. In May it was the turn of Raymond Davis, 61, a builder from Great Bernera, the island linked to the west of Lewis by a bridge. He had just come home from his son's wedding in Las Vegas in May, when it was confirmed he had cancer at the back of his tongue.

"I was advised by a nurse in Lewis to try Maggie's Centre because it might help me. So when I came over for my first programme of chemotherapy, before I even went into the hospital, I came here, opened the door and said my name is Raymond and I have cancer. I was told to come in."

Mr Davis said that Maggie's had given him immense support already, but he certainly would like to try the three-day programme. "I am here for seven weeks this time for my chemotherapy and am half way through.

"I am very fortunate because I stay with my niece who is a teacher. But she is out all day so I come here when I am not in hospital. I have already been to one session on relaxation, and I see the psychologist which is very important as well.

"The nurses, everybody, is so helpful, superb. You can come and just sit and read a newspaper if you want. But I definitely want to try this programme."

Carole Bridge, the centre head, said that the course would not be restricted to those who came to Raigmore for treatment but would be open to anyone in the centre's catchment area.

Help would be given in finding accommodation for those in remote areas who had been receiving treatment in their local hospital.

"Once we have done the course once we will get a feel for what people need, " she said. "The other thing we are in the middle of developing is an online community so that people who have been to the Maggie's centre can continue to keep in touch with us."

Originally published by Newsquest Media Group.

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