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“Stretching a smile” – Gareth’s story

Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012, Gareth began his journey with the therapy team at a circuits class in the hospital gym and says the work of Sophie and the team at Singleton Hospital goes way beyond therapy.

After his treatment came to an end, Gareth reencountered Sophie at a Macmillan World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, and after describing his post-treatment symptoms, Sophie invited him back to the department for further referral.

Sophie referred Gareth back to the Macmillan therapy team at Singleton hospital who, with Gareth decided that hydrotherapy treatment in the first instance, would be a good place to start to try and combat the pain in his back.

Sophie said: “Gareth is a good example of how we work, working with our patients empowers them and allows them to regain a level of self-management as well as helping us build a bond with them – they feel like part of the team.

“We see the person and try and help them overcome whatever barriers they face.
“We offer a cuppa and a big Welsh smile to anybody who comes through our doors.”

Gareth, said: “Sophie and the team are like family.
“They treat each and every one of us like people.
“I feel like I can speak openly, about anything with the girls here.
“They know how I like to be treated, and that’s always a good start.”

Swansea local business man Gareth ended his treatment some time ago, but the bond between him and the team at Singleton means that he’s a regular face in the department.

Sophie said: “While we have a physical job to do, we’re also here to listen, provide emotional support and build a rapport that hopefully means we can help with things like anxiety, feelings of sadness or even just be an ear to listen – if it’s needed.

Gareth added: “Most men are terrible at saying how it is.
“They feel embarrassed, perhaps, I don’t know, but Sophie and the team take all that away.
“I know I can’t keep coming to this unit indefinitely, but it’s good to know that the support is there, for now. I’m not sure what I’d do without them.”

Gareth and Sophie’s story comes at a time when Macmillan is recognising and investing in support services to help ensure anyone affected by cancer has someone to turn to.

This is just one example of living with cancer. Gareth and Sophie’s story is unique to them, but there are many others out there who’ve form similar bonds every day.

The pair have an infectious bond, that brings out the people behind our NHS, and the faces of people living with and supporting people throughout their cancer experience.

For information and support about prostate cancer call the Macmillan support line free on 0808 808 00 00, or visit macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/prostate-cancer

Macmillan Cancer Support can only fund services such as this thanks to the public’s generosity. To get involved with fundraising for Macmillan, call 0300 100 20 00 or e-mail fundraising@macmillan.org.uk.