A new service offering practical, financial and emotional support to cancer patients has been launched in Midlothian.
The Midlothian Living Well After Treatment project provides support to everyone affected by cancer including family members and carers.
This includes benefits advice, employment support and help with getting active after cancer treatment.
The project is part of the Transforming Care After Treatment (TCAT) programme – a partnership of Macmillan Cancer Support, the Scottish Government, NHS and local authorities – which aims to improve the care every cancer patient in Scotland receives after their treatment ends.
Macmillan has invested £5 million in this programme, which is funding 25 pilot projects within the NHS and local authorities across Scotland.
People can be referred to the Midlothian project where they will be given a holistic needs assessment looking at all their practical, financial and emotional needs.
Or they can attend drop-in sessions at Lasswade Library where they are signposted to support depending on their concerns or needs.
For Gillian Vass, the Midlothian Living Well After Treatment project came at just the right time.
The 51-year-old from Danderhall was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2011.
After chemotherapy and reconstructive surgery, she returned to her job as a general surgery nurse at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
“Things were great,” she says. “I was doing really well and then I was diagnosed with secondary cancer in December 2013.”
She had to give up her job and it was at this point Gillian, who is married with a 15-year-old son, got involved in shaping the project for people affected by cancer in Midlothian.
“I couldn’t go back to work, and to be involved in the project gave me something to give back,” she says.
“When you finish treatment you have a few weeks where you don’t have any hospital appointments and you suddenly think: ‘What do I do now?’ There’s a kind of reality shock.
“To have something local, rather than having to go into Edinburgh or across town, is hugely important.”
Macmillan’s national programme manager Gordon McLean said: “This service should make sure everyone in Midlothian with cancer has someone to call on for help, no matter what they need.”
To contact the Midlothian Living Well After Treatment project phone 0131 561 5468.