A FORMER AM has spoken of the isolation she faced after being diagnosed with cancer.
Karen Sinclair, ex-Labour AM for Clwyd South, said she lost a few friends who could not “cope” with the idea of cancer.
Because of the fear of infection there were weeks where she was cut off from family and friends.
She said: “When I could not see people I was isolated. I could not work, go out and meet people – my life had disappeared.”
Mrs Sinclair, from Llangollen, was diagnosed with multiple myelomas, which is when a collection of abnormal plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow, in 2008.
Her comments come after a report from cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support claimed that almost one in five people in Wales diagnosed with cancer each year say they lack support from family and friends.
The report, Facing the Fight Alone, analysed the number, profile and experiences of isolated people living with cancer.
It cites 3,420 people – 19 per cent – of the 18,000 newly diagnosed cancer patients each year.
The mother-of-two added: “I wasn’t isolated in the sense that I have a very supportive family – they are absolutely fabulous. But there are things that I cannot talk to them about during those deepest, darkest times because I don’t want to distress or scare them. There are people out there who are facing this alone and they shouldn’t have to because help is there.”
Lack of support can have a negative affect on people’s health.
Macmillan say more than half of health professionals – 53 per cent – have had patients choose not to have treatment because they felt they did not have the support.
Susan Morris, general manager for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, said: “This research shows that isolation can have a truly shattering impact on people living with cancer.
“Patients are going hungry, missing medical appointments and even deciding to reject treatment altogether which could be putting their lives at risk, all because of a lack of support.”
She said these figures were the tip of the iceberg.
“As the number of people living with cancer in Wales is set to double from 120,000 to 240,000 by 2030, isolation will become an increasing problem and we need to address this now,” she added.
“That’s why we are launching a new campaign to help tackle this crisis and to ensure that in future, no-one faces cancer alone.”
When Mrs Sinclair received chemotherapy and received stem cell treatment Christie Hospital in Manchester, Macmillan nurses would visit her for support .
She said: “They also put me in touch with the local hospice that had a hydro pool and I could use that, rather than a local pool, because they were kept so clean. I’d also go for massage therapy.”