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New survey of people living with cancer reveals unanswered questions are keeping them awake at night

16 January 2015
Feature Healthcare

 A new poll of 1,000 people living with or beyond cancer in the UK1, has revealed a need for additional support to help people manage the every day impact cancer can have on their daily lives.
 
According to the survey:

  • 34% of people who would have liked more information from their healthcare team about a range of medical, practical, financial and emotional issues say unanswered questions about their health had kept them awake at night.
  • 49% do not recall asking their healthcare team about the possible side-effects of treatment on their physical appearance.  Over a third of this group (35%) say this is because they did not feel it was appropriate to ask and one in five (20%) did not feel comfortable asking
  • Amongst those that sought support to answer their questions about the visible side of effects of treatment 24% said it had boosted their self-confidence, 29% felt more in control and 21% felt reassured
  • Boots UK and Macmillan Cancer Support are working together to provide unique support in local communities via  the 1,900 Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacists and 250 Boots Macmillan Beauty Advisors available in selected Boots UK stores

 
As the number of people living with cancer rises from 2.5 million today to 4 million in 20302, it means many more people are dealing with the consequences of a cancer diagnosis. 
 
To help ensure that as the demand for cancer services rises, people have access to the best cancer information and support in their local community, Boots UK and Macmillan Cancer Support have trained pharmacists and beauty advisors to provide additional support, from the personal to practical.   Whether it is where to get more information on managing the side effects of cancer treatment, or how to manage the loss of eyebrows or eyelashes, these new roles are providing convenient access to new sources of support on the high street.
 
“Every day in our stores our specially trained Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacists and Boots Macmillan Beauty Advisors are talking to and supporting people affected by cancer.  As a result we know first-hand how important it is for them to be able the access the information they need and that we know will make a difference to their everyday lives, in a familiar and trusted environment, said Peter Bainbridge, Director of Pharmacy, Boots UK.
 
“After five years of working together we, Boots UK and Macmillan Cancer Support, have learned so much from the people we support and our “Here to help you with cancer” campaign is enabling us to show even more people just how accessible the support they need is, no need for appointments, care and expertise is available on their terms in their local community – when and where they need it.”
 
Jenny Ritchie-Campbell, Director, Services Strategy & Innovation at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:
“With 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK today it is vital that people have access to the best cancer information and support in their local community. Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacists and Boots Macmillan Beauty Advisors enable people to have conversations about the wider, practical and emotional issues of cancer, at a time when they need it most, helping them to take back control and feel more like themselves. By working together with Boots, Macmillan will help ensure that no one faces cancer alone.”
 
30% of people surveyed said they had questions about the side effects of their prescribed medication, while 19% would have liked more information from their healthcare team on managing fatigue and 13% would have liked more information on managing their pain.
 
More generally, 30% of people say they had questions about the impact of treatment on their relationships that they did not ask their healthcare team, 48% of this group said this was because they were too embarrassed to ask some of their questions in a medical setting, 39% felt the questions were not important enough to ask within their consultation and 35% did not want to waste their specialist’s time with questions unrelated to their treatment.

Around four in ten of those experiencing changes to their appearance say this resulted in a loss of confidence (41%) or feeling isolated (42%) and over a third say they went out or saw people less (36%). 
Amongst this group:

  • 37% would have found it helpful to receive information and advice on managing hair loss
  • 33% would have found it helpful to receive information and advice on managing changes to their skin tone and 27% would have found it helpful to receive information and advice on drawing on eyebrows.      

 
Almost four in ten (38%) people surveyed had questions about the emotional impact of their cancer that they did not ask their healthcare team.  Four in ten (40%) of those who did not ask said they did not want to waste their specialist’s time with questions unrelated to their treatment, 37% were too embarrassed to ask in a medical setting, 35% did not think their questions were important enough to ask within their consultation and 25% did not think their specialist team were the right people to answer their questions.
 
In 2013 Boots UK and Macmillan introduced Boots Macmillan Beauty Advisors across the UK. These beauty advisors are No7 advisors who have been specially trained* to offer advice and support to help people affected by cancer to manage the visible side-effects of their treatment. They are able to offer important advice on loss of hair, eyebrows and eyelashes, dry or sensitive skin and brittle nails to help people feel more like themselves.

Charlotte Goodacre, a Boots Macmillan Beauty Advisor from Plymouth has first hand experience of the positive impact the role has had on a women in her local area:
 
“I recently helped a lady learn how to apply make up in the right way following treatment and when she returned home her husband and son cried as they were so overwhelmed at how well she looked.  They came in store to thank me personally for making a difference to her self-esteem and confidence.  It is when you hear stories like this you realise why it is important to make sure that people affected by cancer are receiving the everyday support – no matter how big or small – that is going to make a real difference to their lives.”
 
Boots UK and Macmillan believe that access to the right information and support at the right time can have a positive impact on those affected by cancer. Working together as part of the Boots UK and Macmillan partnership, Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacists have received bespoke training to enable them to talk to people affected by cancer about the wider, practical and emotional issues they may experience as part of their cancer journey.
 
Bhumisha Parekh, a Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacist from Coventry recently supported a lady and her family when she was first diagnosed with cancer:
 
“One of the most stand-out moments of my career is when a woman who had been diagnosed with cancer asked if she could bring her twelve year old daughter in to the Boots consulting rooms to tell her the news and she asked if I could be present to provide additional support and help explain the disease to her daughter.  It is so rewarding to be able to offer patients this additional support at a time when they need it the most.”
 
For further information or support or to find your nearest Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacist or Boots Macmillan Beauty Advisor visit www.boots.com/en/Macmillan
 

– Ends –

 
 
For more information or interviews with Boots UK or Macmillan Cancer Support     please contact the Boots UK Press Office:
 
bootshealthteam@redconsultancy.com / 020 7025 6657


Notes to editors
 
1 Boots/One Poll online survey of 1,000 people living with cancer in the UK (750 women, 250 men). Fieldwork was conducted in 17-31 December 2014. Survey data has not been weighted to be nationally representative of people living with cancer in the UK.
2 See key statistics section of the Macmillan website for more information about the number of people living with cancer in the UK: http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Aboutus/Ouresearchandevaluation/Researchandevaluation/Keystatistics.aspx
 
Case studies available on request.
 
*An online module and face to face training session is available upon request to Boots No7 Beauty Advisors, which has been developed in partnership with Boots UK and Macmillan Cancer Support. Both parts of the training must be completed in order to become a Boots Macmillan Beauty Advisor. 
 
 
Boots Macmillan Beauty Advisors

No7 advisors have been specially trained* to offer advice and support to help people affected by cancer to manage the visible side-effects of their treatment, via a tailored and personalised service developed by Boots UK and Macmillan Cancer Support.  Their training means they are able to offer other important advice on the side effects of cancer treatment such as the loss of eyebrows and eyelashes, deeper wrinkles, dry or sensitive skin and brittle nails.  This support aims to help women undergoing cancer treatment to feel more like themselves again at a time when they need it most, with a one-to-one consultation.
 
Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacists

As part of their ongoing partnership, Boots UK and Macmillan have specially trained over 1,900 Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacists to help improve the lives of those affected by cancer. They are available in many Boots stores to help connect people to information and support in their local area, at a time when they need it most.
 
Macmillan Cancer Support and Boots UK

Cancer is often the toughest fight many people will face. Boots UK and Macmillan Cancer Support are working together to ensure everyone affected by cancer, wherever they are in the UK, has access through Boots to the best cancer information and support in their local community. Through the partnership, Boots is introducing bespoke training for its pharmacists, healthcare colleagues and No7 advisors to help deliver more ways for people affected by cancer to get information and support on the high street, in local communities and online. Boots colleagues and customers have already raised £9 million for Macmillan over four years. For more information, visit macmillan.org.uk/boots.
 
About Macmillan Cancer Support

When you have cancer, you don’t just worry about what will happen to your body, you worry about what will happen to your life. Whether it’s concerns about who you can talk to, planning for the extra costs or what to do about work, at Macmillan we understand how a cancer diagnosis can take over everything.
That’s why we’re here. We provide support that helps people take back control of their lives. But right now, we can’t reach everyone who needs us. We need your help to make sure that people affected by cancer get the support they need to face the toughest fight of their life. No one should face cancer alone, and with your support no one will.
To get involved, call 0300 1000 200 today. And please remember, we’re here for you too. If you’d like support, information or just to chat, call us free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk
 
About Boots UK

Boots UK is the UK’s leading pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer. Our purpose is to help our customers look and feel better than they ever thought possible. We have close to 2,500 stores from local community pharmacies to large destination health and beauty stores. Boots UK is a member of Alliance Boots, a leading international pharmacy-led health and beauty group.
 

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