Last week at the Senedd in Cardiff the Breast Cancer Care charity met with AMs to promote the work they do with women prior to their cancer treatment. Speaking at the event was Gwyneth Jennings, originally from Y Felinheli near Bangor but now living in Cardiff and Arfon AM for Plaid Cymru, Sian Gwenllian, was in attendance to lend her support. Both women were school friends at Bangor Grammar School for Girls.
“Hearing about all the fantastic work Breast Cancer Care do with women as they find their feet again after treatment and especially hearing about it first hand from Gwyneth made me realise that the journey is far from over with a verdict of ‘all-clear’”, said Sian Gwenllian. “Gwyneth is now free from cancer but it was obvious that the experience is still very raw for her as she became quite emotional while describing her illness and then her experiences with the charity. Cancer and recovery from cancer places strain on every aspect of a person’s life, both physically and emotionally, and that is where this charity comes in.”
Breast Cancer Care arranges courses for women in recovery called Moving Forward After Cancer with the aim of providing advice on diet, alternative therapies, exercises and anything that may help women get back to normal after a gruelling treatment regime.
“We learned a lot of different skills and healthy routines which have been very beneficial to us after treatment,” said Gwyneth Jennings, “but the main thing for me was just being able to share my experiences with other women who had gone through the same thing. I used to work for the NHS and I’ve had to give difficult diagnoses myself, but you have no idea what it’s like until you go through it yourself.
“I received my diagnosis in March last year - I’d just come back from New Zealand and I had a lump and a sharp stabbing pain. I wasn’t too concerned because the lump came and went and I always thought you didn’t get pain with cancer, but as soon as I saw a consultant I received the bad news straight away and a lumpectomy followed. I’m feeling very well these days, and I will always be thankful to the medical staff and to the Breast Cancer Team who followed up the excellent work with superb support and advice.”
However, the courses aren’t reaching all the women that they could be helping at the moment and both Gwyneth Jennings and Sian Gwenllian are keen to see that change.
“I’d really like to see more attention given to the work this charity does and funding would mean more courses which would mean increased support for more women,” said Sian Gwenllian. “Currently only 3% of women who have had breast cancer enrol on these courses and I am keen to see more women gaining access to them where they can get help and advice from dieticians and a variety of specialists who are invited to help the women get on with their lives after cancer.”