Sam Wilkinson, from Blackpool, volunteered for the Macmillan Cancer Carer Buddy following the death of her husband Geoff to cancer two years ago at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
While there is a wide range of both physical and emotional support for those patients directly affected by cancer, it is sometimes the carers and loved ones of those patients who carry an equally heavy burden.
It is hoped that the Macmillan Cancer Carer Buddy service, which launched this month, will provide both practical and emotional support from someone who has a similar experience as a loved one or carer.
Although Sam says she is mindful of reliving some of her most painful memories, she is keen to offer her experience to those who might need it.
Sam said: “I always felt, especially as a partner, that I always took a backseat.
"I used to feel guilty if I felt tired, felt guilty if I was struggling. Anytime we met someone, it was always, quite rightly about Geoff, I was always in the background.
“I just thought there must be others, especially husbands or wives, who love their partner dearly but are struggling and would just like to have someone to just offload to or just listen to them.”
Helen Bright, Macmillan cancer Iinformation and support manager, said: “Carers can often feel that they shouldn’t ask for support when it comes to cancer, because they are not going through it.
“Actually loved ones and carers are impacted in a way that sometimes the patient isn’t even able to acknowledge or understand what they are going through.
“There’s a tendency for carers not to disclose that they are worrying, because very often they don’t want to add to the worries which are already existing with the patient.
“So the potential for a Cancer Care Buddy is an inspirational idea.
"We have cancer buddies for patients, shared experiences between patients, but we had no carer-to-carer support, and this service will provide guidance where needed.”
Sam has already begun her role with the Macmillan Cancer Carer Buddy service offering practical and emotional support to those affected.
The charity is now looking for other volunteers to come forward and use their experiences to help others through the sometimes difficult journeys ahead.
“I’ve sometimes asked myself ‘Why am I back here, the scene of all my sadness?’” Sam added.
“But I’ve sort of carried on and thank goodness I did. It’s good to know that people understand, that as a loved one or a carer, they know that they are being listened to and understood.
“It is so important that the carers and loved ones feel appreciated, to make them feel that they were seen.”
The Trust’s volunteering team are now looking to recruit more Macmillan Cancer Care Buddies.
If you feel that you want to share your experiences and help support others with their practical and emotional needs contact Nicola Ellis on (01253) 955710 or email [email protected] for more information.