My decision to look at volunteering with Lymphoma Action came about as I decided to give something back following a diagnosis of non–Hodgkin lymphoma three times and after having radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments. Although there was a lymphoma group in Coventry, that was too far for me to travel initially so I set about looking to start up a group in Stratford upon Avon and Warwick. I got in contact with Lymphoma Action to become a Support Group Organiser (SGO).
Fast forwarding to launching the group and the first meeting, I was very pleased to welcome over 20 attendees who had various experiences of lymphoma, whether they had a diagnosis themselves or were caring for a loved one with lymphoma. We are now one year on from the launch of the group and it's brilliant to be able to celebrate our one year anniversary!
Initially I wanted to alternate the meetings between Stratford and Warwick but the consensus was to keep the meetings in Stratford, particularly as we were kindly supported by the managers of the Health and Wellbeing Information Centre at Stratford Hospital, which is our regular meeting venue. The group started out by meeting once a month in the evening but after about six months of organising the group, I trialled an afternoon session for those who couldn't make it. The Warwickshire Support Group now meet on the third Thursday of each month, both in the afternoon and the evening.
Part of my volunteer role is to organise speakers and over the past year we have had talks about mindfulness, dietetics, clinical psychology and a taster tai chi session. We are very keen to get the local healthcare professionals involved too. We also have meetings where people come along and chat with others about their experiences over a cup of tea.
The group have been involved in raising awareness and fundraising on behalf of Lymphoma Action in the local Morrisons store, where we successfully raised £108. We are looking at other venues to do more of this in the coming months. Raising the awareness of the group, lymphoma and Lymphoma Action can be challenging at times, but just one new person reached is rewarding.
On a personal note, my husband and our two daughters took part in the Bridges of London Walk successfully completing it and raising just over £1,000.