Leeds GP Confederation’s Cancer Screening & Awareness Programme, funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research, aims to tackle health inequalities by encouraging more people in Leeds to take part in cancer screening.
To help achieve this we are working with eight Primary Care Networks (PCNs) in areas of the city with the highest levels of deprivation. Each of these eight PCNs have appointed ‘Cancer Care Coordinators’ who help support people across the city to take part in screening.
To find out more about our Cancer Care Coordinators we asked Sophie Lockwood, Cancer Care Coordinator in Middleton & Hunslet PCN, about her role, and why programmes like this are so important.
What inspired you to become a Cancer Care Coordinator?
When I was little, a family member was diagnosed with cancer. Luckily, after the right treatment, they are now in remission. Growing up around cancer made me realise how scary the process of diagnosis and treatment is and I’ve always wanted to give back to the services that helped get my family member well again. I feel really fortunate to be able to work within my local community to raise awareness of the national screening programmes so that there may be more people like my family member who beat cancer.
What does a Cancer Care Coordinator do?
My job is to find out who isn’t coming to their bowel, cervical and breast cancer screening appointments and figure out how I can help them to change that! I offer lots of information and reassurance surrounding cancer and the screening programmes and do my best to answer any questions that people may have so that they feel comfortable enough to come and get screened. I work with the community as well as the local GP surgeries to put things in place to raise awareness of the cancer screening programmes and hopefully get more people screened.
Why is the work that you’re doing important?
There are more people in Yorkshire who are diagnosed with and then die from cancer than many other parts of the country – this is why it’s so important to increase awareness of the national screening programmes – if cancer is detected in its earlier stages, there is a much higher chance of treatment being successful. I also like to think that I can be a comfort to people who are unsure or anxious about getting screened.
What would you say to people who are hesitant to attend their screening appointment?
I believe one factor putting women off breast and cervical screening is that they think they have to ‘go it alone’. Screening providers are happy for women to being a friend or family member in to screening appointments for support, alternatively providers have specially trained staff to accompany people to their appointments, which can sometimes be helpful!
If you’re uncertain of anything, staff are always happy to answer any questions you may have regarding your screening appointment. If you have any additional needs or if there’s anything we can do to make you feel a bit more comfortable, let us know prior to your appointment and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.
What are you most proud of in your role?
Taking on this role has allowed me to meet a wide range of dedicated people, I’m proud to know that there are so many people who whole-heartedly dedicate their career to raising awareness, funding and offering support to people living with cancer. I’m especially proud of everyone over at Yorkshire Cancer Research who are helping to fund such important programmes, such as the Cancer Care Coordinator programme.