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Having previously brought another project on cancer awareness to fruition, it was decided to launch wecancervive ni.  Our main objective is to use a psycho-social approach during learning in order to help engender a greater empathy and holistic awareness among those in the health and social care sectors, regarding the personal experience of people being treated for cancer.

We want to show medical and nursing students, ancillary staff, social workers, community workers etc, how those, some in remission and some  who are living with the disease,  can pass on their many and varied experiences to others. They have a role, they have a family and they carry with them a cocktail of countless emotions and feelings.

By providing our input through interactive workshops and tutorials, we can, by experiential learning and role play, pave the way and enhance the assimilation of empathy in learners.    The lesson is that cancer can be survived but usually at the cost of numerous visits and stays in hospital at an extremely vulnerable and frightening time. We would like to share our experiences and hope that learners can empathise and apply the knowledge and soft skills they gain from the sessions to their everyday practice.  It is also envisaged that learners will keep an ongoing and reflective journal of a patient, for a length of time, as he or she goes through their treatment pathway. The survivors’ role is to talk to learners, share their real life experiences, take part in role play if appropriate and answer any questions.   They will also be showing their scars and living aids to the learners to further reinforce the learning experience. Life size pull up banners, depicting our team of survivors, will be used during each session as a learning aid.

The members of our project, including us, have experienced many types of cancer, ranging from tongue, breast, ovary, rare brain sarcomas, cancers requiring limb amputation to preventative double mastectomy, on a 27 year old woman, due to carrying the BRCA breast cancer gene.

All the survivors and those living with cancer have a story to tell.  We believe that everyone who participates in our sessions will take something away with them that will enrich their lives. We are not out on a crusade or to ‘sabre rattle’.   Our goal is to emphasise how important empathy is when dealing with a patient, especially one who’s could be life limited.

Ray and I have over thirty years of experience in developing and delivering training in all areas from brain injury rehab, young offenders, to the   public service scientific area.  We are fully qualified in all aspects of developing and delivering accredited training and health and social welfare and would welcome the opportunity to use our expertise and knowledge in the way we envisage. Role play is used as an assessment tool in many recruitment processes, especially nursing.  We feel that there is a place for this to be ongoing – especially for consolidation of prior learning and for continuing self-development in empathy and other soft skills.

We would welcome the opportunity of discussing this further and giving you a short presentation, if possible.  We are completely flexible as to time and location and look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.