A SPECIAL scheme established last year to provide practical and emotional support for local people affected by cancer has gone from strength to strength.

The Macmillan Worcestershire Buddy Scheme aims to be a lifeline for those feeling particularly isolated following their diagnosis.

Recent research conducted by Macmillan shows an estimated 4,800 people living with cancer in Worcestershire, are suffering with loneliness as a result of their cancer.

The volunteers at the scheme help those struggling to cope with the physical, practical and emotional effects of a cancer diagnosis.

Grayham Wood from Redditch was diagnosed with multiple myeloma 18 months ago and has first-hand experience of how the scheme can make a difference.

“Part of the treatment for my cancer meant I was at high risk of infection, I wasn’t allowed out of the house for a long time and no one came to visit me," he said.

"I started to feel really lonely and really down, I didn’t have anyone to talk to. In the end it got so bad I was desperate to talk to someone so I rang the Macmillan Information Centre at the Hospital and they put me in touch with the Worcestershire Buddy Scheme.

"Shortly after that I was introduced to John, one of the volunteers at the scheme, and we hit it off straight away. After that my life really changed, it really brought me out of myself.

"I had someone to talk to who wasn’t a nurse or a doctor, just someone who would sit there and listen to me and who I could chat to about other things as well, not just my cancer."

Mr Wood added: "More people need to know about the buddy service so that people who really need someone to be there when they come out of hospital, someone to talk to, know where to go for help.”

Mandy Hagley volunteers with the scheme in Redditch, she said: “I am currently supporting a young single mother in her 30s who is currently undergoing chemotherapy which leaves her with quite severe fatigue.

"She had to drive herself to and from appointments at the hospital for her treatment despite being shattered, as well as having to look after her son and trying to keep up with the housework, she was really starting to struggle.

"As soon as I was buddied with her I started driving her to and from her chemotherapy appointments each week and I also visit her once a week to help out with the housework and the washing and so on.

"Now she can focus on spending quality time with her son while I make sure the house is clean and tidy. It’s a huge satisfaction and a lovely feeling to know you have really helped someone and made a difference to them.”

For more information about the scheme, email estickney@macmillan.org.uk or call 07764 503475.

If anyone has questions about cancer, visit macmillan.org.uk or call 0808 808 00 00.