Our Great Escape!

In this guest blog post, Shine member and new network leader Daniela writes about her experience on the January 2020 Shine Great Escape.


Blog post author Daniela

I became involved with Shine after my cancer diagnosis in April 2019. Since then I’d heard a lot about the Great Escape from various people and I so wanted to take part! Phrases like ‘surrounded by people who just get it’ and ‘friends for life’ inspired me to apply and made me really look forward to going.

Initially I wanted to meet like-minded people who were younger and needed a little support to find their way after diagnosis. Although I had had counselling post-surgery, I really wanted to discuss, share and learn from others who had been diagnosed with cancer and have the freedom to not have to explain – just be understood.

The more I found out about the Escape, the more I realised how much could be gained from the experience. I began to think about the issues that were still troubling me. I called them the ‘spaghetti junction’ thoughts and emotions. I hoped that they could be untangled so I could find a clearer direction for the future and begin to understand my thoughts and feelings more, rather than just experience them.

In reality, the Escape far exceeded my expectations. Yes, I was surrounded by people who got it. Yes, I do believe that I’ve made friends for life. And yes, I have begun to untangle the spaghetti junction of thoughts and emotions – but I can’t even begin to express how much more I gained.

The Escape is completely safe, giving you the freedom to explore your thoughts and feelings without judgement. There is a whole lot of love, support and understanding from Shine Directors Ceinwen and Emma, the peer support leaders, the counsellors, your fellow ‘Escapees’, and this year even from some rather lovely alpacas!


The stars of the show?

All Escapees are at different stages of their diagnosis, all different ages, family backgrounds, and so on, but somehow none of that matters. As the weekend progresses, it’s as if a glue (metaphorical, of course!) is spread across the group and bonds you together. In some discussions you may take more of a lead and provide support and understanding for others, and in other discussions the group will support you. There are no boundaries and no trump cards on the Escape. There were some tears, but most importantly there was empathy, advice, guidance, and lots of hugs.

What I took away from the weekend, apart from a few extra pounds after having a cooked breakfast every morning (optional of course!), is a greater sense of perspective and acceptance. On diagnosis, my thoughts were ‘this is such an inconvenience, I really don’t have time for this’. Then I realised that no matter what I did or felt, I had to put my faith in my doctors and take one day at a time.

Now I am not in so much of a rush to get back to the way I used to be. Instead, I have begun to accept that there will be a new normal. I accept the need to be kind to myself and allow myself the space and time to heal both physically and mentally. Life can change in a moment, so now I try and fill my time with the people I love and who love me, doing what I actually want to do – or not do, as the case might be. It’s all about JOMO now!

I feel proud of everyone I met at the Escape, and proud of myself, for everything we have endured and still do. You know what? We are a pretty awesome, tough, and (dare I say it?) brave and inspirational bunch!

For anyone pondering the Escape, please take the step and fill in the application form. The Escape is not a ‘relaxing spa weekend’ and at times it can be emotional. You do end on a high, though, and it’s a big one! If you are reading this and have any doubts about applying, please don’t worry and do it. It will be a weekend that will stay with you for life (in a good way!), and you get a free t-shirt. It’s a win-win!

I must give a special shout-out to Ceinwen, Emma and all the volunteers (including Tatum’s yoga balls!) for their time and support. On my return home, I’ve described the Escape as 10 counselling sessions condensed into a weekend. It sounds intense and it is, but words don’t even begin to do justice to the support it brings.

Shine has been the main charity to support me since diagnosis. My experience of the Great Escape has cemented in my mind that I want to become a more active part of the Shine community. I am now becoming a London network leader (exciting!) and I would also love to be a volunteer peer supporter at an Escape in the future. Maybe I’ll see you there one day? I hope so!

windy escapees

We did it! Our Bournemouth 2020 Escapees

My experience on the Shine Great Escape

Guest blogger Sam was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in February 2019 at the age of 28. After six months of chemotherapy, she found out she was in remission the day before attending the Manchester Great Escape. In this post she writes about her experience on the Escape and why she found it so valuable.  

Shine Great Escape Manchester 2019 - deckchairs

In October 2019 I made my way up to Manchester for the Shine Great Escape. This free weekend brings together young adults in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who have been diagnosed with cancer. During the 3.5 days retreat there are various workshops that explore issues that affect young adults with cancer. It’s also an opportunity to have fun and meet people who just ‘get it.’

After a two-hour drive from Birmingham, I arrived at the hotel in Manchester on Thursday afternoon. I checked in with the Shine team at reception and everyone seemed really chatty and friendly, so I immediately felt at ease. After dropping my bags off in my room, I was introduced to my peer supporter and peer group. We had the opportunity to chat for a while before everyone headed into a room where Emma and Ceinwen (the founding directors of Shine) introduced themselves and we started to get to know each other.

In total there were over 20 of us attending the escape. Everyone seemed so different, but the more we talked the more I realised how much we also had in common. Although we had been through different experiences, it struck me how there were some things we could all relate to.

Over the next few days, I attended workshops on topics such as managing anxiety, relationships, and working after cancer. I can honestly say every single session I attended was invaluable. My brain was buzzing with information by the end of it. I even started saving snippets of advice in my phone so I wouldn’t forget things!

Each session was around 45 minutes long (sometimes shorter) and there were plenty of breaks built-in. There was also no pressure to do anything you didn’t want to do, and you could take a break or go for a nap in your room whenever you needed to.

When I told friends and family I was going on a “cancer retreat,” some assumed it would be a very sad and sombre occasion. Although the sessions covered some serious and sometimes painful topics, we generally maintained a light-hearted feel throughout.

Before coming on the escape I wasn’t sure how I’d feel sharing personal information about my life to a group of strangers. However, it didn’t take long before I felt completely comfortable. It felt good to know I could speak openly and honestly without fear of being judged.

Sam wearing an orange shine tshirt

Blog author Sam

What did I enjoy most about the Escape?

When I think back on my highlights from the Escape, there are a few moments that spring to mind.

On our first evening, we were given an icebreaker task to complete during dinner. Each table had to create a sculpture using pipe-cleaners, tin foil, and other random materials. The winning team’s Gwyneth Paltrow-inspired creation was brilliant! My team won the prize for ‘Best effort’ (which I’m trying to tell myself wasn’t just another way of saying ‘Congratulations, you came last!’).

When they bought in the therapy dogs on Saturday afternoon I had the biggest smile on my face! Then, on Saturday evening, we went into Manchester city centre for a meal before some of us headed on to karaoke. If you watch the video of the weekend, you’ll see I was really getting into it! Karaoke is something I used to enjoy doing before I was diagnosed (even though I’m a terrible singer!), and it felt so good to be doing it again.

In fact, this weekend really reminded me that cancer hasn’t changed me completely. I used to think of myself as a *fun* person, before chemo and hospital appointments took over my life. The Escape reminded me that I am still that person. I laughed and smiled more in those 3.5 days than I had all year!

During the final day of the Escape, we headed to Quarry Bank, a beautiful National Trust property around a 20-minute drive from the hotel. This was the location for our fundraising walk. It was very muddy, but luckily the rain held off. In total we raised almost £2,500, which will help fund places for the next Great Escape.

Shine Escape ready for fundraising walk

Would I recommend the Shine Great Escape?

Absolutely. The advice and information I received has been so helpful, and the memories I made will stay with me forever. I hadn’t been coping very well since finishing treatment, but the Escape helped me realise everything I’d been feeling was normal. That I wasn’t alone.

Our next Great Escape takes place in Bournemouth from 23-26 January 2020. Applications for the Escape – which is free to attend – are open until 15 November 2019. Apply now!

A version of this blog post was originally published on griffblog.co.uk.

Shine Yoga and Brunch Day

Gemma Easterbrook is a 38 year-old wife and mother to two small children, and has been living with a rare brain tumour since 2018. In this post she writes about the September Shine yoga and brunch retreat in Cambridge, which seemed the perfect way for her to mark the end of 12 months of treatment.

Bright sunshine, a cloudless blue sky and a warm breeze set the perfect scene for the Norwich and Cambridge Shine networks to link up for a yoga and brunch day on Saturday 22 September. Nothing could spoil this idyllic day, not even charmless taxi drivers and road closures as far as the eye could see!


Guest blogger Gemma and her husband

Twelve East Anglian network members all joined together for a no-experience-necessary day in the company of Tatum, Shine’s very own yoga teacher. Tatum inspired us all to practise our yoga  outside under the shade of a beautiful tree in the grounds of the hotel, much to the surprise of the hotel staff.

Members of the group had a mixture of abilities, from first timers to longstanding yoga fans, and we all wore a smile as we were treated to a restorative and awakening yoga session in the open air. Joined by an inquisitive Labrador and bemused dog-walkers who looked on enviously, we used the gentle postures and breathed carefully to awaken and stimulate our tired bones. The poses  were easily adapted to suit everyone, irrespective of how their bodies and minds were feeling that day.

We all took part in a mindful moment: we were offered a small sweet treat by Tatum and encouraged to eat it slowly and thoughtfully, and to really allow ourselves to experience the textures, tastes, sounds and sensations as we enjoyed it. It was very grounding and a great thing to try at home.

Being closer to nature was very healing and during Savasana, the relaxation part at the end of practice, we lay on our mats and stared up at the blue sky and watched dragonflies darting above us. It was a moment of quiet peace for us all.DSC_0404

We had all worked up an appetite and trooped inside to be greeted by hot drinks and a delicious made-to-order brunch, including smoked salmon, eggs and avocados. Extra toast arrived, piled high on plates, and we all dived in, with the Norwich members grabbing a bit extra to go as it was time to head back to the train.

And what did the other attendees think of the day?

Sophie from the Cambridge network said: “This was my first Shine event. Meeting all the other friendly ‘Shinies’ in an informal, comfortable setting helped with my feelings of isolation that I have had since my diagnosis.”

Corinne, leader of the Norwich Shine Network, added “What a lovely day! Since my treatment, there haven’t been many times that my body has felt good but Tatum’s approach to yoga is so gentle and revitalising it was just the treat my body needed!

“The day was a great opportunity to meet Hannah and some of the Cambridge members. A lot of our Norwich members travel to Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge for treatment so it was good to link the networks up with each other.”

My best memory was at the end of the session, which included a balance pose that had us all giggling, followed by a supportive group balance where we stood alongside each other and felt unified and supported to balance and breathe. It was an apt end that highlighted just what Shine is all about.

Being at a Shine event means that you never have to explain if you’re feeling tired or below par, or if you’re feeling quiet or not yourself. It means not making excuses when you’re running late because you couldn’t think straight, or if you forget someone’s name. Being amongst Shine people allows you to breathe and feel at ease because you know the person alongside you understands what it is like to be on the same strange and unwanted journey that is having cancer.

Meet one of our fundraising superheroes

In our latest blog, Shine volunteer Conor meets Charlotte – a Shine member who ran the Royal Parks half-marathon to raise money for Shine in 2019. 

In January 2017, Charlotte Rowe, who was an NHS graduate trainee at the time, was hit with some shocking news. Symptom-free, fit and healthy, except for feeling “a bit lumpy”, she was informed that she had Stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She had to leave her course immediately to undergo four months of ABVD chemotherapy and move back home with her parents in Wales. Fast forward to the present day: we met up in London so I could ask her about what it was like to run the Royal Parks Half-Marathon for Shine Cancer Support, raising more than £1,500 in the process.

Charlotte RPH

Royal Parks Half Marathon runner Charlotte

I met Charlotte at Picturehouse Central on Shaftesbury Avenue, a movie theatre at heart, but with a comfy upstairs bar area where young and older types come to work on their startups and chat purposefully. Charlotte’s been a friend of mine for the past year and she agreed to meet and talk about what it was like being an unenthusiastic runner yet wanting to challenge herself in a new way for a charity that grew to mean a great deal to her.

“I used to play a bit of netball when I was at uni and I had started running a bit more before I was diagnosed. I was never particularly fit but I was always trying stuff,” she said. All exercise  went out the window once treatment started, though. She was reacting well to the medication and drugs, but had a reasonable fear that doing any form of strenuous outdoor activity would lead to an infection or mess up the good thing she had going. In the process, she gained a stone and became a “couch potato”.

“I was constantly scared I was going to lose my appetite so I just ate every meal like it was my last meal, scared my taste buds would go. And I was eating everything I liked the taste of, worried I’ll never taste again (a common side effect of chemotherapy). Basically, I just lived a very nice life, actually,” she said wryly.

Fortunately, Charlotte was told that she was responding fully halfway through her course of chemotherapy. She then moved back down to London and started to work again. Originally hearing of the Royal Parks half-marathon through Shine, she sent a message to a number of her friends asking if they would do it, not actually considering doing it herself – until one responded by saying that she’d run it, but only if Charlotte did, too. (It was March, 2018).

“I couldn’t really think of a decent enough reason not to do it. My aim was to finish in under three hours, knowing I wasn’t going to be able to run the whole thing. I really enjoyed having a bit of routine and training.”

Charlotte managed to get under the time she wanted, thanks to a new-found ability to power-walk.

“I felt there were other people who were around my standard on the day of the event. I didn’t feel at the back. I ran a third of it probably, but actually learned that I’m really good at walking quickly.

“The half-marathon confirmed to me that my fitness was getting much better post-treatment and I then ended up starting playing netball again last January, playing every single Tuesday until the beginning of August.”

More of a team sport kind of person, Charlotte admits that she was probably a little deluded about some of the preparation that goes into a half-marathon. “I quite liked being able to talk about it, feeling like I was proving something to myself and letting my friends know that I’m normal again.”

Once Charlotte decided to submit her application for the race, at no point did she think she was never going to do the race. For her, raising the money for Shine was very important. “I did not meet a single person during treatment who was my age. I was the youngest on my chemo bay unit by at least 25 years. I was living on my own, having been through quite a traumatic experience and as soon as I went to my first Shine event, it unlocked a bit of my brain, as if this was more normal, this was fine.”

Nearing the end of her Earl Grey tea, Charlotte went on to describe how Shine continues to help her to move forward, saying that she was very proud to run for the charity. “I could never see myself doing it had I not been ill. You’d think if you hadn’t been ill then you’d do more stuff, but it wasn’t until I felt I had reason to do it.”

What is Charlotte’s advice to anyone considering doing a half or full marathon?

“Given the two extremes, when you think of long-distance running, you’re either Mo Farah or the man in the astronaut suit at the back, running as a joke,” she said. “They deliberately set their races up for dealing with everyone in the middle. I was worried about being left at the back, but they’re very accessible for people.”

If you would like to donate to any of the people running the Royal Parks Half-Marathon for Shine this year taking place on Sunday, October 13, you can do so using any of the following links and see their story:

Shane Simpson –https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/shanesimpson2

Kat Simpson: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kate-simpson24

Simon Walters: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SimonWalters6

Pete Grosse: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PeteGrosse

Diego Delgado: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/diego-delgado

If you’d like to find out more about how you can support Shine’s work, please drop us a line at fundraising@shinecancersupport.org, or view challenges here.

Shine Connect 2019: a participant’s experience

In this post, Shine’s blog editor Caroline writes about her first time at Shine Connect, our annual conference for people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s living with and beyond cancer.

I discovered Shine Cancer Support when I was first diagnosed with cancer in early 2017. I felt completely lost and as I clawed around in the dark, trying to make sense of the incomprehensible, I found the Oxford Shine network. I started going to local meet-ups, and then I was lucky enough to get a place on Shine’s Bournemouth Great Escape. I’ve been to Shine Camp, I’ve completed a fundraising 50km hike, and I also volunteer as Shine’s blog manager. If I could bear to look when the cannula goes in, I might even be able to confirm that I bleed orange too – who knows?

I’d never made it to Shine Connect though. I have anxiety that sometimes makes it harder to spend time with large groups of people and besides, who wants to give up an entire spring Saturday to talk about cancer? As it turns out, approximately 150 other young people with cancer! As May rolled around, I decided that this year I was going to give Shine Connect a try.

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Neil, one of Shine’s employees, greets some conference participants!

I’d signed up to attend the pre-conference breakfast, so I had an early start to get into central London from my home in Oxford. I arrived at The King’s Fund to coffee, delicious pastries and a big Shiny welcome! Each attendee (including me) had been matched with a Shine volunteer, which meant that I immediately found myself chatting with a small group of people, including one who had travelled all the way from Scotland just to attend Connect!

The conference began with a short welcome from Shine founders and co-directors Ceinwen Giles and Emma Willis, during which they introduced the charity and re-launched Shine’s small c project.

Second on the main stage was a panel discussion with Shine members Charlotte, Precious, Dan, and Chris who chatted about their own experiences with cancer and, in Chris’s case, what it’s like to watch a loved one go through treatment. I find it really useful to hear other young people’s stories. Regardless of the type of cancer, there are plenty of commonalities. The panel discussion picked up on a lot of themes that were then explored in talks and workshops throughout the day.

Panel discussion

Panel discussion on living with cancer at a young age.

There were lots of workshops to choose from but I’m really interested in improving my fitness to make sure I can live longer with my lung metastases, so I joined the session ‘Getting active after a cancer diagnosis’, led by Gemma Hillier-Moses from Move Against Cancer. Once Gemma had us all warmed up with a group attempt at the Cha-Cha Slide (so happy that there are no photos of me!), she talked about Move Against Cancer’s online programme for under 30s, as well as their popular 5k Your Way initiative. As someone who repeatedly sets herself challenging fitness goals but then gives up when she fails to achieve them, my biggest takeaway from the session was that movement doesn’t have to be structured. Going out just to run, rather than run 5km or run for 30 minutes, can relieve some of that ‘pressure to perform’ that we often experience. A brilliant tip!

Lunch provided the opportunity to share stories from the morning sessions, make the most of the delicious hot buffet (I’m still dreaming about the chocolate bread and butter pudding!), and meet the exhibitors in the marketplace. I snuggled the therapy dogs, picked up some lovely free moisturiser from Jennifer Young, and chatted to researchers about the specific needs of young adults with cancer. I also managed to catch up with some friends from the January 2018 Great Escape, which was great.

In the afternoon I opted for the ‘Managing Relationships’ workshop, led by Emma and Rosie from Shine. We talked about how the relationships with our family, friends, and colleagues have been affected by cancer, and the session felt quite emotional. Although I’ve taken part in similar discussions before, I still left the workshop with some fresh perspectives and new ideas.

After a quick cup of coffee (and scones and brownies!), all the conference delegates gathered for the keynote presentation: neuropsychologist Dr Stuart Anderson talking about the dreaded ‘chemo brain’! Dr Anderson put our cognitive skills to the test with a couple of simple but challenging exercises, then explained some of the scientific literature on the topic. I’ve never had chemotherapy but I’m sure that cancer has affected my brain cells – so it was good to hear that ‘chemo brain’ is also known as cancer-related cognitive impairment, and neurotoxicity from chemotherapy is only one of the many suggested causes. I can blame my poor memory and attention span on cancer after all! Thankfully, Dr Anderson closed his presentation with lots of helpful brain training app recommendations – so hopefully I’ll be able to concentrate again soon.

Stuart Anderson

Keynote speaker, Dr. Stuart Anderson talks about “chemo brain”.

Emma and Ceinwen closed the conference by thanking the event organisers TTA, the speakers, and all the excellent marketplace exhibitors. After a final group photo, it was time to open the bar! I had a fantastic time at Shine Connect and the day flew by. I’ll be back next year – and I hope to see you there?

Shine’s Northern Retreat

Hi everyone, I’m Rosie, and I’m the newest member of staff here at Shine HQ.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2016 and after following the usual treatment route of surgery, chemo and radiotherapy, I now have ongoing maintenance treatment every 3 weeks.  This is because the docs think that, at one point, the cancer spread to my spine, although currently I have no active disease.

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At work in the Shine office

A close friend of mine told me all about Shine at the very beginning of my treatment and as soon as I went to my first Shine event, I was hooked! I decided very early on that if the opportunity to work for them ever came up then I was definitely going to apply! I took on a volunteer role of jointly running the Dorset network and then, last June, I managed to make it back to the second year of my social work degree at Bournemouth University.  I was super lucky that I was able to choose my placement and so, of course, I chose Shine! However, around Christmas time that I re-evaluated the route that I was taking; trying to keep up with academic work around my treatment, while also coping with fatigue, was proving troublesome. The degree no longer felt so relevant now that I had new priorities: mainly staying alive, enjoying the time I have left (however long that might be!) and giving back to the community.  As a result, I made the hard decision to leave uni and instantly felt much better! Then in January of this year, (very serendipitously!) an opening at Shine appeared that was perfect for me: part-time hours and the opportunity to get involved with all the fab work that Shine does. I applied, and the rest, as they say, is history!

One of my first jobs was to help out Hannah (who runs Shine’s Manchester network), to staff Shine’s annual North Retreat in early March.  Shine’s retreats give attendees the opportunity to have a break from the stresses of living with cancer while also getting to know others in a similar situation.  

Ten of us settled into a spacious and comfy farmhouse that we had hired for a weekend, in a small village not far from York. Everyone was free to do as little or as much as they liked throughout the weekend. The only thing that we asked was for everyone to muck in a little bit (if they were able) with the cooking and tidying up.  If our Tesco delivery was anything to go by, we knew that we definitely weren’t going to go hungry!

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Tesco delivery!

Once everyone had found their rooms, we all settled in and got to know each other over a lovely home-cooked spag bol.  Some people had been to Shine events before and knew a couple of members of the group, but for others this was the first Shine event that they had attended.  Everyone understandably had some anxieties about spending the weekend with new people, however that soon dissipated when we realised that we were all in the same boat.  

On Saturday, most of us braved the British weather and headed off to the local market town of Beverley for a bit of an explore around the shops and market stalls, and we also grabbed a bite to eat while we were out.   Afterwards, we headed back to the house to either rest, play games, or go for a wander in the surrounding grounds. At this point we were also joined by the lovely Rachel (who used to volunteer to run the north East network)! pasted image 0 (5)

Once we had spent some time catching up, it was time to jump in some taxis and head out for a lovely dinner in the local village pub.

Sunday was again a relaxed affair. Some of us stayed at the house to play games, while others went off for a walk.  The walking route ended up being a bit longer than anticipated but everyone ended up safely back at the house in time for a home-cooked roast dinner before half of the attendees packed up and made their way home.

On the final night, those of us who were left had some drinks and played some more games….Cards Against Humanity anyone?!

The next day, we were all sad to leave because it had been such an awesome experience! Those who had come not knowing anyone now no longer feel quite so isolated (especially as we have an active WhatsApp group to stay in touch) and the general consensus from everyone was that they would definitely recommend our retreats to other Shinies!

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On that note, the next retreat that we have planned is in Dorset from 17th to 20th May!  If you are interested in finding out more, please drop me an email to find out more (rosie@shinecancersupport.org)!

Get yourself Connected!

About five years ago, a few of us at Shine HQ were having a coffee and chatting about why the UK didn’t have a conference for younger adults with cancer. After looking around a bit more (and confirming that there was indeed no such event), we took a deep breath and decided to do it ourselves!

We’re excited to be bringing back Shine Connect for a fourth time, for a gathering that’s bigger and better than ever before. We’ve kept the stuff that participants have liked (hello therapy dogs!) and added new and different sessions to cover topics that you don’t typically see covered anywhere else!Connect 2

What can I expect?

Shine Connect is a friendly conference – it’s got some conference-y type activities (like panel discussions and workshops), but it’s also an event where you’ll be able to meet other young adults with cancer. This year, we’re holding a pre-conference coffee & croissant session. If you’re coming alone or are just feeling a bit nervous about spending the day with strangers, register for this session! You’ll be met by some of our friendly volunteers who will introduce you to other conference participants. By the time we kick off at 10am, you’ll feel like you’re with old friends!ShineConnectGroupPhoto2018 (2)

And no, there isn’t a dress code (just wear what you feel comfortable in!).

What kinds of sessions will there be?

Every year, we survey our volunteers and online community to come up with a list of topics for Shine Connect. We then set out looking for experts that can cover those topics – it’s never an easy task but we give it our best! This year, we are super excited to have a number of never-seen-before discussions on some important topics:

Alternative routes to parenthood: We’ve often run sessions on fertility after cancer (and we’re still doing it this year!) but we know that a lot of those we support would like to become parents even if they can’t have their children naturally. We’ve lined up an amazing panel who are going to talk about egg and sperm donation, adoption and surrogacy. We looked far and wide for someone who has had cancer AND a baby via surrogate but they were very few and far between! We do, however, have the lovely Ben coming to speak about surrogacy – he’s just had a baby with his partner and is super knowledgeable about the surrogacy process in the UK and abroad. And our other speakers are experts too!

Ben Cawley

Ben (with his partner and their new daughter) will be speaking about surrogacy.

Man Up! We’re very happy that the award-winner trainer Paul DuBois is coming to Shine Connect and running a session especially for men on managing stress and anger. There won’t be any sitting around in a circle sharing (promise!) but it will be a great opportunity to talk to other men going through cancer and think about how you might be able to understand and manage the tough emotions that cancer can bring up at little bit better.

Menopause: Whether you’ve had a cancer that directly impacts your hormones or not, many women who go through cancer treatment either end up in menopause or facing early menopause as a result – and it’s not talked about enough! In this session we’ll have a panel talking about how they’ve managed early menopause and we’ll also be hearing from Dr. Rebecca Lewis, a GP with special expertise in menopause (and no, we didn’t

Dr. Rebecca Lewis

Dr. Rebecca Lewis, one of our panellists on menopause.

know that was a thing either!).

As if all of that wasn’t enough, we’ve also got sessions on:

  • Getting moving after cancer, with Gemma Hillier-Moses of MOVE Charity
  • Supporting children through a parent’s diagnosis, with Dr. Caroline Leek of the Fruit Fly Collective
  • A chance to get your boogie on with Emily Jenkins of Move, Dance, Feel
  • Dating after cancer (where we will discuss at which point you might consider telling your partner that you’ve had cancer!)
  • Fertility after cancer
  • A session on relationships and how they change after a cancer diagnosis.
  • We’ve also go a session especially for Plus Ones – if your partner, family member or friend would like to come along, they can join this session and meet others supporting young adults with cancer.

And to close the day, we’ve got the fabulous Dr. Stuart Anderson coming to speak about chemo brain. Can’t quite remember what that is? Well, it’s the cognitive changes that a lot of people experience as a result of cancer and cancer treatment – and Dr. Anderson, a neuropsychologist, will be talking us through why it happens as well as looking at ways that we can manage it.

Dr Stuart Anderson

Prof Stuart Anderson will be giving the keynote on “chemo brain”.

Anything else going on?

Why yes! We’ll have free massages and a virtual reality pod where you can try to climb a mountain or chill out by a beach. And by popular demand, the therapy dogs will be back (though, as always, we’ll keep them in a separate room so if you don’t like dogs, don’t worry!). We’ll also have a marketplace with lots of other great organisations who support cancer patients.

And of course, Shine staff and volunteers will be on hand to tell you more about Shine and the work we do.

Sounds great! How do I register?

Simply head to HERE and register! You can sign up for the sessions you’d like to attend, let us know about your dietary requirements and also ask questions that you’d like to see answered in the session.

Tickets are £25 for young adults with cancer and the friends/family/partners. If you’re on benefits, we do have some bursary places available, as well as some travel bursaries. Just drop us a line at connect@shinecancersupport.org.


Neil, one of Shine’s volunteers

Still feeling unsure? Neil, one of Shine’s volunteers said this after he came to Shine Connect 2018:

Definitely go for it! Shine is such a lovely, friendly community. I was chatting to people all day who had come to their first event and were nervous but everyone made them feel so welcome. I think everyone that goes remembers how nervous they were before their first event so they go out of their way to help others feel comfortable. What have you got to lose?!

Hope to see you there!