Feature: A '˜one of its kind' club to support cancer patients

Over the years the Affected by Bowel Cancer (ABC) Club has helped many patients at Warwick Hospital.

Tuesday, 26th July 2016, 1:19 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th July 2016, 2:23 pm
Avril Enston and Brian Wakefield. NNL-160726-114049001

The club is a patient support charity and members believe it could be the only one of its kind in the country.

Members recently paid tribute to the club’s founder Avril Enston, the lead colorectal cancer nurse at the Hospital who has now retired from the NHS.

Member Andrew Copson said: “Avril founded the Club almost ten years ago as she foresaw a need for patient support outside of the normal in-hospital care system.

The logo for the Affected by Bowel Cancer (ABC) Club at Warwick Hospital. NNL-160726-113817001

“The club enjoys the full support of hospital management, clinical, and nursing staff, and is possibly the only one of its kind in the country.

Avril is held in the highest regard by the ABC Club members, and will be greatly missed, however, she leaves a valuable legacy in the support activities of the Club that will continue into the future.

“The ABC Club and its members sincerely wish Avril a long and happy retirement.

ABC is managed by patients operating independently out of Warwick Hospital and has been described by Mr Copson a club that ‘by its very nature nobody wants to be a member of’

The logo for the Affected by Bowel Cancer (ABC) Club at Warwick Hospital. NNL-160726-113817001

To protect patient confidentiality – the club operates through the colorectal cancer nursing team at Warwick Hospital – which is the only way it can target patient needs.

From her commencement in 1999 to the post of lead nurse, Avril had the idea to form a patient support group for bowel cancer patients.

This became a reality in 2005 when Avril’s secretary Lynn undertook a sponsored walk of 77 miles along the Cotswold Way and raised £1,500.

In September 2007 an inaugural meeting of 120 patients, carers and staff was held and the ABC Club was born.

Initially the club’s main objective was to arrange for patients and carers to have an informal, non-medical forum where they can relax, discuss their concerns and experiences and form friendships with people in a similar situation to themselves.

It is a fact that patients recover quicker when they can socialise outside the medical environment.

Members also wanted to help the hospital improve the relationship between patients by giving feedback information and suggestions from the patients’ point of view.

The club’s first venture was to arrange social evenings where we could invite guest speakers along to talk on a variety of interesting subjects whilst enjoying a general chat and refreshments.

This quickly developed to include regular events and there is now a full calendar of events throughout the year, including outings, skittles nights, quiz nights, regular walks and social evenings.

Following on from the successes with the social wellbeing of members it was found that some patients would benefit from more practical help.

Members now take the advice from the hospital’s colorectal nursing team and try to match help to individual patient requirements.

This includes transport, short breaks for patients and carers, aftercare materials and more.

The club is now registered as a small charity with a proper constitution and a well organised structure which is in a good position to adapt to ever changing patient needs.

***** Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, after breast, prostate and lung cancers.

Over 41,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK. More than nine out of ten new cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 50, and nearly six out of ten cases are diagnosed in people aged 70 or over.

But bowel cancer can affect any age.

More than 2,400 new cases are diagnosed each year in people under the age of 50.

One in 14 men and one in 19 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime.

Around 290,000 people living in the UK today have been diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Some 16,200 people die from bowel cancer in the UK every year.

It is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK, behind lung cancer. But the number of people dying of bowel cancer has been falling since the 1970s. This may be due to earlier diagnosis and better treatment.

For more on the ABC Club at Warwick Hospital go online.