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Cornish Patients Battling Cancer Alone
3:24pm 11th February 2013
Pirate FM has learnt one in four Cornish cancer patients are battling their illness with little help from family and friends.
According to new research by Macmillan Cancer Support, 150 patients in the Duchy are fighting cancer alone.
The charity is warning more than half of isolated patients have skipped meals or not eaten properly due to a lack of support at home.
Some have not been able to wash themselves properly or do household chores. More than one in ten had missed doctors or hospital appointments.
Iris Billings from St Austell lost her daughter Tanya to leukaemia at the age of 17.
Iris and her family later went on to set up 'The Tanya's Courage Trust' in her memory, to support teenagers and young people fighting cancer in Cornwall.
She said: "Support from family and friends is absolutely crucial. They get you by, day by day. I think it does have a detrimental effect on the outcome, because if you're totally alone, it's got to have an effect on your well being in your mind, as well as in your body.
"It is terribly isolating. You imagine just feeling so awful, because the treatment itself is so gruelling. To be completely on your own, with no family or friends around you, it must be just awful."
David Crosby, General Manager of Macmillan Cancer Support in Central and South West England said: "This research shows that isolation can have a truly shattering impact on people living with cancer. Patients are going hungry, missing medical appointments and even deciding to reject treatment altogether which could be putting their lives at risk all because of a lack of support.
"But these figures are just the tip of the iceberg. As the number of people living with cancer is set to double from two to four million by 2030, isolation will become an increasing problem and we need to address this now. That’s why we are launching a new campaign to help tackle this crisis and to ensure that in future, no-one faces cancer alone."
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