A volunteer-led community project has been set up to help emotionally support those affected by cancer.
The CanChat Café which is held every Thursday afternoon at The Cornerstone on Sulyard Street in Lancaster provides a way to meet others who have gone through or are going through something similar.
Every week two volunteers sit at the reserved table from 1.30pm until 3pm waiting for anyone who fancies dropping-in for a chat.
Louisa Balderson, Involvement and Insight Coordinator for Macmillan Living With and Beyond Cancer in Morecambe Bay said: said: “What we find with a lot of people affected by cancer is that it’s not the clinical side of treatment that causes issues afterwards, it’s the emotional impact which can suddenly affect a patient and they can feel quite isolated.”
Ms Balderson explained that the CanChat Café offers an alternative to patients who don’t want to go into a hospital or a cancer-related setting to talk to somebody.
She said: “They can come to a normal café and just have a brew and a chat with someone who has also been affected by cancer. It helps people understand what it’s like to be living with cancer.”
Tim Snashall is a volunteer at the CanChat Café and 7 and a half years ago he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
He said: “We talk about all sorts of things here. We can chat about what we’ve gone through and our own personal journeys. For me it's about sharing experiences and helping to improve people's perception of them."
Liz Edge is also a volunteer at the CanChat Café and 3 years ago she was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
She said: “At the end of my treatment I felt totally lost. When you’re going through treatment it feels like it’s happening to someone else and it all goes so quickly. Afterwards I needed emotional support and didn’t know who to contact. This is one of the reasons why the CanChat Café has been set up.”
The CanChat Café is part of the Chatty Café Scheme which was set up to help reduce loneliness by getting people chatting.
Janet Cherry, Café Manager at The Cornerstone had previously heard about the scheme and was keen to get involved, so when Ms Balderson walked in looking for a venue to hold the CanChat Café, Miss Cherry was more than happy to help.
She said: “I was really keen to help with this project as it provided a different level of support for people going through cancer. For people struggling with an illness there aren’t many places to go where they can just have a normal conversation with someone going through something similar. Some people don’t always want to sit in a hospital room talking about what they’re going through.
“The CanChat Café gives people the opportunity to be in a regular setting and to talk about anything they want to without having to explain everything they’re going through in so much detail. It’s about providing emotional support and bringing people together.”