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T
he
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s
how
T
his month's articles from Yes to Life are all
centred around the psychological/emotion-
al side of dealing with cancer. We have 3 very
different articles for you, all from guests of the Yes
to Life Show in recent weeks.
Brian Greenley introduced a very unusual, but
nonetheless powerful resource to us - letter writing.
His own experience of receiving letters from Alison
Hitchcock was so powerful and transformative for
them both, that they ended up talking about it on
the BBC Listening Project last Christmas Day, and
have set up a charity promoting and supporting it.
Wendi Saggese, herself a late stage cancer patient,
has been fortunate to stumble on one of the great
secrets of life that has enabled her to change her
relationship to her own thoughts to such a degree
that she no longer experiences any great stress, de-
spite her situation.
Lastly, psychotherapist Judith Edwards told us
about the shared web platform, Cansurviving, that
she set up following her own recovery from can-
cer, that has now become a popular worldwide re-
source.
c
Ancer
cAn
BrinG
A
sense
of
sociAl
isolAtion
...but there is a simple way to help
When Brian Greenley was di-
agnosed with bowel cancer, he
never believed that the letters
that then acquaintance Ali-
son Hitchcock offered to write
to him during his treatment
would change both their lives.
In 2009 Alison and Brian had met on yoga holiday
in India. In 2010 Brian shared that he had been di-
agnosed with cancer. Perhaps because she didn't
know what to say, Alison offered to write letters to
cheer him up. Looking back, she says, she's not sure
what possessed her by her own admission she
was no writer. But a promise was a promise!
The letters began and over the next 2 years,
as Brian's cancer developed to stage 4, Alison kept
on writing.
"I began to cherish the time I took for myself when I
sat, alone, and wrote,' said Alison. `It felt very good to
be doing something for someone else."
Her enthusiasm for writing was bolstered by Brian's
response to receiving the letters.
"Knowing that someone is caring enough to write,
buy a stamp and put the letter in the postbox means
so much," he recalls. "The letters helped me to feel re-
connected with the real world.'"
It is common that when someone receives
a cancer diagnosis even the most well-meaning
friends can distance themselves, fearful of what to
say and how to say it. As the cancer patient may
now be absent from work or no longer be at the
school gates, they become detached from their
community, increasing that sense of social isolation.
Southampton University's 2016 report, written with
Macmillan Cancer Support, concluded that cancer
patients feeling socially isolated are three times
more likely to suffer from depression.
"Something as simple as a card or letter makes you
feel reconnected again," said Brian. "Knowing that
someone is thinking of you can change your whole
outlook on the day."
Calendar of Upcoming Yes to Life Events
June 10th - The Health Benefits of Linseed with Durwin Banks, Horsham
June 17th - Healing with Painting Workshop with Elisabetta Fumigalli, London
June 22nd - Medicinal Mushrooms with Hifas da Terra, Camden, London
June 29th - The Role of Chinese Medicine in Cancer Support with Don Mei, Camden, London
See Events at yestolife.org.uk for more details