Thursday 4th February marks World Cancer Day, our Business Development Director Jess shares some of her thoughts and experiences of cancer and the support we can all offer:

On the 4th February we mark World Cancer Day and I wanted to write about some people I know who have been affected by the illness.    Firstly, my hike club friend, who I met through a neighbour.  She was in her 30s when she found out she had breast cancer.
Over the next couple of years, she endured lots of invasive treatment and operations but kept her head held high and remained positive throughout.  I found out I was pregnant, and was fortunate enough to bring twins into this world around the same time as she died.  I could find some solace in the cycle of life.   But what of her husband who was left behind, living alone in their marital home?  What is the best way to help and support someone to live on after loss?  My instinct tells me to always talk about my friend, and never pretend she wasn’t around – but does this make it worse for him?  I would not say I was a close friend, but I really do care. Am I making things worse by bringing it up? He seems to be dealing with it well whenever our paths cross. He seems so strong and I have so much admiration – would I be the same if it were me?
Secondly, there’s my close friend whose partner found out he had testicular cancer which then spread only last year.  Two operations and chemotherapy obviously had a massive impact on the couple.  One minute they were planning where to go on holiday and when to have a family, and the next minute he was in hospital, devastated.
Fantastically, he is now in remission with the all clear, but what of my friend who supports him day in and day out?  Who is constantly worrying about what the future brings?  Who shoulders lots of responsibility at work and at home?  What can I do to support her and alleviate some of her stress?  It’s important to stay positive but also be realistic about the impact that this set back has had.  I want her to know that I really admire her strength and courage.  She doesn’t know how resilient she is.  In my world of being a mum of three and having a pressurised job, I’m determined to find the time and energy to keep checking she’s okay.
So the question for me is, how do we best support those who are supporting others?  As friends and as a society, it is important that people know they are not alone.
Jessica Parker
Touchstone Business Development Director
Twitter @JessicaParker57