Wessex Cancer Alliance, working alongside Wessex Voices and Healthwatch Dorset have launched a new project called ‘Our Cancer Our Way’.

The aim is to creatively engage with children, teenagers, young people, and their parents and carers, to understand what cancer services in our area, feel like to them and where improvements could be made.

The project will be a fully co-designed effort, with involvement from a patient and carer advisory group.

“I have been working with the team to help choose the name of the project – we all voted for it actually and I like that we have been helping to create the logo and flyers too because it really makes it feel like something we belong to”, says Jasmine, one of the project’s expert advisors.

Project manager, Sue Bickler from Wessex Voices adds: “Our Cancer Our Way, is all about us listening to the young people who are going or have been through the cancer journey themselves – or a parent or carer whose child has cancer, and that could be a young child, a teenager or a young adult.”

She continues: “We want to know what was good, what was bad and what they would change if they could – because that is what we want to do – change the services to better meet the needs of those who use it.”

The project is looking for patients to get involved.

Have you been treated for cancer in the last two years and were you aged 24 or under at the time?  Parents and carers or children, teenagers and young adults from the local hospitals are welcome to get in touch to talk about their cancer experience.  There are many ways you can share that experience.

Healthwatch Dorset LogoLucy Cribb from Healthwatch Dorset, is Engagement manager for the project gives a few examples: “We are not limiting the options available to you!  Tell us your experience in any way you wish and that can be creative or simply by sending us an email.  If you want to share a blog, vlog or diary about your cancer journey; write a story, a poem, draw a picture, sing a song or take a photo.  It is your cancer experience, so tell us in your way.”

There will also be focus groups for parents to join and share their experiences, but everyone is welcome to get in touch and have a one-to-one discussion too, if they prefer.

The project will then look at what people said so it can start to plan for where changes, improvements or adaptations could be made.

Clinical Advisor for the project and Wessex Cancer Alliance’s lead for children, teenagers and young adults Louise Hooker explains: “This work will enable us to identify opportunities for service improvement.  Our future plans must be informed by the experiences and priorities of young service users and their families.

“We will ensure methods for listening to needs, and then implementing change through co-design is part of our culture and ongoing service delivery.”

For more information or to get in touch and express your interest, please visit wessexcanceralliance.nhs.uk/our-cancer-our-way or email sue.bickler@helpandcare.org.uk.