Caring pair’s help mission for cancer sufferers

Ruth Boardman and Rena Shanahan, ambassadors for Blue Skies Hospital Fund
Ruth Boardman and Rena Shanahan, ambassadors for Blue Skies Hospital Fund
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For anyone suffering from breast cancer in Blackpool, Ruth Boardman and Rena Shanahan are there.

They are survivors of the disease, and are keen to make the journey for other people suffering from it a bit more bearable.

For them, there was no-one on hand to be a listening ear or to make cups of tea save for the busy doctors and nurses who were treating them.

So when they were asked to become volunteers at Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s breast care unit, there was only one answer.

Ruth, 61, said: “We’ve both been nurses in the past so had an insight into what was needed and what breast care volunteers would have to do.”

She and Rena, 71, attend the unit every Thursday, when they help with the general administration of files and talking to patients about what they’re going through.

They also run a Wellness Clinic for patients who are nearing the end of their treatment for advice and support from a member of the unit’s staff.

Ruth added: “It’s just a chance to break the ice.

“There is a support group meeting once a month for anyone with breast cancer undergoing treatment. People come with their queries and worries and we have speakers and trained members of staff who will help them.”

And in their spare time they are fund-raising for their Hint of Pink charity, which in two years has raised more than £40,000 for the hospital’s charity, the Blue Skies Hospital Fund.

Currently they are raising money to pay for new gowns for women who are having mammograms.

Ruth, of Roylan Avenue, Carleton, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, and was treated at The Vic.

She said: “We will always be suffering the effects of cancer, but at the time we were diagnosed there was no-one like us who we could talk to.

“We are there for whatever patients might need us for. Some new patients are quite apprehensive so we just make ourselves known and that they can be comfortable with us.

“It’s very rewarding doing what we do.”

Rena, 71, of Bispham Road, Carleton, was diagnosed with breast cancer on her 65th birthday.

She said: “It’s lovely to be able to give a bit back and pay back something the unit has given us. I think our work is appreciated.”

The support group meets on the first Wednesday of every month at the Breast Care Unit at The Vic.