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Gloucester breast cancer survivor launches new support group

By Ben_Falconer  |  Posted: February 23, 2014

Joanne Sutherland

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WHEN Joanne Sutherland emerged from nine gruelling months of cancer treatment, there was not much in the way of support for her away from the hospital environment.

Six months of chemotherapy and three months of radiotherapy saved her life. She and modern medicine beat an aggressive form of breast cancer but she still needed someone to talk to, someone who understood.

It is why she and others are setting up Charlie’s, a group for cancer patients.

“I’m nine years clear now,” she said. “At the time, it was a huge shock - a lump was found, I was rushed in to hospital. I wasn’t given a great chance, but thankfully the treatments worked.

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“But after, there was not any support away from the hospital. Now we have Maggie’s in Cheltenham which is a lovely centre but there is still nothing on the Gloucester side of the county.

“We want people in Gloucester to receive some kind of support.

“It can be difficult for some people to talk about what they have been through or what they are going through.

“We would like this to become quite an event for people who still need somewhere to go and someone to talk to.”

Joanne, 41, who has a husband and two daughters aged four and six, has named the group Charlie’s.

“It is named after my grandfather Charlie who died of cancer when I was 11,” said Joanne, who works for the South West Ambulance Trust and runs her own business, RnR Therapy.

Charlie’s first meeting will be on Wednesday, March 5, from 10am to 2pm, and it’s for all cancer patients, whatever stage of treatment they are at, and post-cancer patients. She intends to stage a meeting on the first Wednesday of each month and build from there.

There will be therapies including reiki, Indian head massage, manicures, hair care and a chance to express artistic talents, and tea, coffee and cake. Local companies are also offering prizes for a raffle.

Joanne is working with Cathryn and Darryl Rasdell, and has been supported by Butterflies Beauty Therapy and Tesco in Quedgeley, which has donated refreshments.

Pets@therapy have kindlly offered to bring a dog along to the Capital Venue in Waterwells, which has been donated free-of-charge too.

And she said Maggies, Cheltenham General Hospital chemotherapy department, and doctors’ surgeries had been very supportive of the fledgling group.

To find out more, call 07786 547 439.

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