As someone who knows what it’s like to live with a lymphoma diagnosis, I am delighted that we have received funding from BUPA UK Foundation to run a programme of Live your Life workshops for young people aged 18-30.
I was diagnosed with lymphoma when I was 13 years old, so ever since I started coordinating our Live your Life project last year, I’ve been keen to run a programme of events specifically for young people.
Our Live your Life programme of workshops and conferences has now been running for a year. We held more than 30 events in 2017 and received incredibly positive feedback after each event. However, we’ve noticed that these workshops and conferences, although aimed at all ages, do not always cover some of the issues faced by young people specifically. So, in response, we applied for funding from BUPA UK Foundation to roll out a separate branch of Young People’s Live your Life workshops.
The aim of these tailored workshops is to help empower young people to move on with their lives after finishing treatment for lymphoma or while on ‘watch and wait’. What I know from my own experience of lymphoma and hearing the experiences of friends who I have met through cancer charities, the end of treatment can be a really difficult time. Emotions catch up with you as you try to re-integrate back into ‘normal’ life and you have to come to terms with everything that has happened. These workshops are designed to help young people manage these issues and move on so they can live well with and beyond lymphoma.
In a similar way to our current Live your Life workshops, we will help young people manage their fear of lymphoma returning by equipping them with information about the signs and symptoms of relapse. We discuss how to live a healthy lifestyle after treatment or while on ‘watch and wait’, including the role of diet and exercise. We also cover issues such as fertility, relationships, social media, and there is a module on studying and working after cancer in which we discuss rights and benefits and how to talk about cancer on a CV or in an interview.
Another key focus of the workshop is the emotional aspect of a lymphoma diagnosis. We provide a safe space for young people to talk about the emotions they have experienced, or are experiencing, and we can offer helpful coping strategies. The workshops allow an opportunity for young people to share their experiences with others, taking comfort from the knowledge that other people their age have experienced similar things and similar emotions, and that they are not alone.
We’re really proud of the fact that young people who have had lymphoma, with the support of local nurses and social workers, will facilitate these workshops. We feel it’s really important for the workshops to be run by people who understand what it’s like, and therefore can offer the best information and support.
Our first Young People’s Live your Life workshop will take place in Cambridge next month (February) and we are all super excited to launch what promises to be an informative, supportive, and empowering series of events.
*We are extremely grateful to have the support of CLIC Sargent in these workshops