Macmillan nurses have revealed their experiences in supporting cancer patients to get more people to talk about the & # 39; taboo & # 39; side effects of the disease, such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
A recent YouGov poll for charity showed that 20 percent of people living with cancer – about 500,000 people in the UK – found it difficult to seek help with problems caused by the disease because they were felt ashamed or ashamed.
While about a quarter of people with cancer said they were reluctant to open up about problems related to the disease because of the way others would respond.
In a moving video, Macmillan nurses show how they encourage patients to open up and also some of the most important problems they have faced.
Macmillan nurses try to encourage patients to talk about & # 39; taboo & # 39; side effects because many people are too embarrassed to seek help. Depicted is nurse Claire Taylor, who works in London
Lead Prostate Cancer Nurse Specialist Benjamin Hearnden, pictured, said humor can be a good way to start talking about traditionally considered taboo topics
Lead Prostate Cancer Nurse Specialist Benjamin Hearnden, who works for the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, starred in the video.
Ben said: & # 39; People are ashamed to talk about things and by not talking about it it seems a hundred times worse.
& # 39; For example, a camera on your buttocks. Nobody goes "oh yep I'm ready" – but humor is a good way to talk about things.
& # 39; It is very sad that people are embarrassed to ask for help with the associated physical and financial problems despite a serious illness.
Martin Dunne, a Cancer Information & Support Adviser for Macmillan, found that some of the people he helped could be very angry and could be misdirected to partners or friends.
Kim Peate, a specialist skin cancer specialist, said she met cancer patients who are really struggling with a diagnosis and the side effects of treatment.
& # 39; Patients with whom I work can often experience problems with incontinence, erectile dysfunction and relationships.
& # 39; Unless we as a society overcome our shame, cancer patients will continue to struggle with serious problems when help is often just a conversation or a call. & # 39;
Martin Dunne, a Cancer Information & Support Adviser for the Macmillan Support Line, explained how: & # 39; People can be very angry and that can be misdirected with both partners or other family and friends.
& # 39; Cancer could have given them pretty awkward side effects, such as incontinence. & # 39;
Macmillan Nurse Consultant Claire, in the photo, said that she was worried about people who didn't open and that sometimes it is only after they leave the doctor's room that they admit that they have problems
Claire said the effects of having cancer treatment on a patient's work, home life, and finances are all & # 39; very valid things & # 39; and that nurses want to know about them so that they can try to help
Kim Peate, skin cancer nurse specialist at East Kent Hospitals, said, "Unfortunately, I have people who say to me," I want to die now. "
& # 39; Not that they are necessarily suicidal at the time, but they say that they are actually not sure if they want to continue with treatments they receive. & # 39;
Claire Taylor, a Macmillan Nurse Consultant at Colorectal Cancer at NHS Trust, NHS Trust, says she is concerned about people who don't open up.
She said: & # 39; It may not be before we leave the room that they say & # 39; I didn't like to say it, but actually I haven't had an erection since the operation & # 39;
Ben, in the photo, said his patients often have problems with incontinence, erectile dysfunction and relationships
The nurse said: & # 39; Unless we as a society overcome our shame, cancer patients will continue to struggle with serious problems when help is often just a conversation or a call & # 39;
& # 39; I'm really worried about people who don't open up after they have had a life-threatening diagnosis
Claire added that she wants to know how cancer affects all parts of her patients' lives.
She said: & # 39; We need to know what your mind is and what the impact is on your work, your family life and your finances. These are all very valid things. & # 39;
Claire also said it is worth thinking about how children talk about & # 39; taboo & # 39; topics because they often & # 39; laugh at their poo & # 39 ;.
Macmillan showed that sex and relationships were the most important taboo issues in the UK, with 45 percent of people saying they would find it difficult to talk to their partner. Shown is nurse Kim
She said: "Maybe if we have a life-threatening condition, we should embarrass ourselves again and say that these are just obstacles that pop up and they don't actually have to be there."
Macmillan revealed that sex and relationships were the number one taboo problem in the UK, with more than half of the people who said they found this difficult to talk about.
She added that 45 percent said they would have difficulty even talking about them with their partner, close friends or family.
Amuz Sandhu, 33, from the West Midlands, pictured, said he & # 39; is ashamed and guilty & # 39; felt to open and admit that he was suffering mentally after his bladder cancer was successfully treated
However, one in three people with cancer (37 percent) said the disease had a negative impact on their ability or desire to have sex.
Amuz Sandhu, 33, from the West Midlands, was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2016. He said: & # 39; After my cancer diagnosis, I really suffered mentally.
& # 39; Even after being treated successfully, I was still suffering from anxiety and depression.
& # 39; I felt that I could not have a conversation with my consultant about my infertility and loss of femininity & # 39;
Ali, 41, from Wales, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2015 after doctors discovered abnormal cells during her cervical smear.
She had a complete hysterectomy, but when discussing treatment options, the consultant adopted a woman of her age (37 at the time) who was single and would have had a son if he had had the procedure.
Ali was devastated and had assumed that she would have another baby.
Ali, 41, pictured, had a hysterectomy after cervical cancer diagnosis
She also had many questions about sex – especially about side effects, satisfaction and libido.
However, she felt unable to raise this with medical professionals when there were so many other, more apparently serious, side effects that she should focus on.
She said: & # 39; The conversation about having a hysterectomy happened right after the diagnosis and I was still recovering from the shock.
& # 39; Everything I can describe as being a very, very difficult choice for me.
& # 39; I can't remember whether I was embarrassed or not because I was in such a shock state.
& # 39; I really felt that the procedure would make me less woman and I didn't know how to put that into words.
& # 39; I felt that I could not be in full conversation with my consultant about my inner feelings about infertility, loss of femininity and less feeling for a woman and also about sex and relationships.
& # 39; I thought he would think I was really stupid when I was essentially confronted with a life / death situation. & # 39;
& # 39; I was initially reluctant to tell me how I felt, because I thought I would feel better if I had the overview.
& # 39; I felt embarrassed and guilty that I still had this fear and anxiety when I was told that I was feeling medically fine.
& # 39; When I finally opened and accepted help, it made a huge difference. Confronting the feelings in me helped me to accept them and move on.
& # 39; Since I opened myself up and sought help, I have developed enormously as a person and have grown much stronger. I feel happier and better in myself than I had long thought possible. & # 39;
While Hazel Smith, 31, from Dorset, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2018. She said:
& # 39; Although my cancer has now been successfully treated, I have had side effects from my treatment that could be considered taboo.
& # 39; Pelvic radiation causes internal scars; this damaged tissue can in turn cause your vagina to become narrower and shorter.
& # 39; This means that women like me who have had this treatment should use vaginal dilators to prevent the healing process from surviving.
& # 39; My sister was with me at the hospital when I was told about this side effect; we were both in total disbelief.
# I don't think people have any idea that this can happen after cervical cancer treatment; It was a shock to me.
& # 39; I find it one of the most difficult aspects in my ongoing life after treatment. At first I felt embarrassed, but I'd rather be honest so that people can understand the effects of cancer. & # 39;
The poll showed that other prominent taboos are intestinal or bladder problems (46 percent), financial problems (46 percent) and feelings of sadness and depression (39 percent), all of which may occur as a result of cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Dany Bell, specialist for treatment and recovery at Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
& # 39; Receiving a cancer diagnosis can turn your life upside down and affect much more than just your physical health. The side effects can be emotional, physical and financial.
& # 39; We want people with cancer to know that whatever they go through, they are not alone.
& # 39; Many of the & # 39; Taboo & # 39; effects of a cancer diagnosis are treatable and thanks to the generosity of the British public, Macmillan is here to help.
& # 39; The findings of this poll also show why it is so important that all support needs of people with cancer are recognized and addressed, at diagnosis, during treatment and afterwards. It is vital that these & # 39; taboo & # 39; side effects do not slip through the net. & # 39;
For Macmillan assistance, visit macmillan.org.uk or call the support line on 0800 808 0000.
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