Cancer patient to share experiences at international conference about life after the disease

Thursday 27 March 2014

A cancer patient from Chorlton, Manchester, who this year will mark 10 years of being in remission, will be speaking at an international conference next week.

Mark Davies, 42, will be representing the views of people living with and beyond cancer at the innovative event on Friday 4th April which has been organised by The Christie, The University of Salford and Macmillan Cancer Support. The conference will bring together top healthcare professionals to discuss innovation in aftercare and support for people living with and beyond cancer.  Speakers will include senior health professionals from the UK, the USA and the Netherlands.

Mark was just 31 and living in London when he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. After seeking advice about potential treatment options, Mark moved to the North West and has since undergone treatment including a specialist radiotherapy technique called Papillon, chemotherapy and surgery. 

He said; “Being told you have cancer at such a young age is something you never expect to hear and it certainly shapes the way you see life. After treatment I wanted to share my experiences and treatments to give people a different view of cancer and focus on living beyond the cancer not the cancer itself.  I’ve written a book about my experiences and am also involved in and chair a number of patient experience committees.”

The event at The Lowry in Salford Quays will explore the impact of the National Cancer Survivorship Initiative (NCSI) - a partnership between NHS England and Macmillan Cancer Support, which aims to provide healthcare professionals with the tools to help people affected by cancer, who may be dealing with the consequences of treatment.

The initiative was formed in 2008 in response to concerns that traditional models of follow up did not meet all of the needs of the increasing number of people surviving cancer. The NCSI promotes post-treatment support such as ‘holistic needs assessments’, long-term care planning and improved treatment summaries at the end of each acute treatment phase, care reviews completed by GPs, and wellbeing events to encourage healthy lifestyles and physical activity.

The themes of the conference will include exploring the consequences of treatment experienced by patients living with and beyond cancer, the challenges faced by community-based and hospital-based services, the meaning of patient empowerment and what can be learned from the aftercare given to patients with other chronic diseases.

Mark, who now works for a radiotherapy equipment company, added; “Some of the work I’ve been doing since finishing treatment has been highlighting just how vital it is that the late effects of cancer are discussed from the outset – not once treatment has finished, so that patients are fully prepared for the journey ahead.  I feel humbled that I can share my experiences and that my views can help shape the care patients receive.”

Maggie Pearson Pro-Vice Chancellor (Public Benefit) and Dean of the College of Health and Social Care, University of Salford, said “As survival rates and outcomes improve it is becoming clear that we need flexible models of aftercare, which can respond to the range of people’s needs and wishes, with regards to how they live with and beyond cancer.”

Julie Atkin-Ward, Macmillan Development Manager, said: “Although it is fantastic news that more of us are surviving cancer, there is growing evidence that many cancer patients do not return to full health after gruelling treatments and the serious side effects of the disease. We need to ensure that these people are not left to face the long-term effects of cancer alone by shifting our focus to delivering proper aftercare and more community based services.”

Macmillan survivorship manager at The Christie, Ben Heyworth, added; “Patients often tell us how life after treatment can have its own challenges and that’s why we’ve been working hard at developing our survivorship and living with and beyond programme over the past few years.

“Listening to our patients is vital and sometimes even the small things can make a huge difference.

“We hope this conference will provide us all with the opportunity to share best practice and help make improvements to support cancer patients across the globe.  People can follow the event on Twitter using #changingprospects14.”

Tickets are £150 but the conference can be watched online for £60. Go to www.christie.nhs.uk/school-of-oncology or email education.events@christie.nhs.uk to book a place.