Macmillan bus bringing help to cancer patients and families

From left : Amanda Fry, Lynda Maggs, Angie Stevens, Sarah Crook and Jez Burman. Photo: SG160413-118NG
From left : Amanda Fry, Lynda Maggs, Angie Stevens, Sarah Crook and Jez Burman. Photo: SG160413-118NG

Angie Stevens put on her petal wig and bright green tee-shirt when Betty the Macmillan bus came to Sainsbury’s car park in Spalding.

Angie (53) is charity champion for the store where she works and Spalding and Holbeach Macmillan Cancer Support is their chosen charity of the year.

It’s a cause close to Angie because she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 and in fact three other members of staff have suffered from cancer. One colleague, June Rogers, has sadly died.

Angie had cancer in both breasts and so she has had a partial mastectomy in one breast and lumps removed from the other, followed by radiotherapy.

“I was off work for five-and-a-half months and Sainsbury’s was so supportive,” said Angie.

She also had a lot of support from Macmillan, both financial aid towards the travelling costs involved in her treatment at Peterborough and other extra expenses incurred while she was ill, as well as emotional help.

In January, Angie had another nine weeks off work following breast reconstruction, and once again Sainsbury’s was supportive.

She says: “I have another operation in September so it’s been a long journey but Macmillan are amazing”

Macmillan put Angie in touch with Breast Cancer Care and she was given a mentor who contacted her regularly to chat and offer support.

Angie says: “Even now, two years later, customers ask me how I am, and it’s just lovely.

“Cancer affects one in three people and one in eight women have breast cancer. People need to be checking themselves, and going for smears and regular screening.”

Uptake of breast screening in South Holland is slightly below the national target at 77.3 per cent (against 80 per cent) and bowel cancer screening is on par with the national target, at 60.3 per cent (60 per cent nationally).

However, the uptake rate for cervical screening is low in the South Holland area, at 76 per cent, and that figure is even worse for younger women.

Amanda Fry, cancer information support specialist, says the Macmillan bus is a mobile information centre that visits Spalding, Bourne and Market Deeping on a regular basis. It makes information and support accessible to everyone and is a completely confidential and anonymous service – people can just drop in, including relatives and carers of cancer patients.