Cancer charity initiative of the year

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This category aims to reward a not-for-profit organisation which has undertaken a compassionate activity to improve the well-being or quality of life of patients with cancer, or made a significant contribution to the fight against cancer.


It’s in the Bag: supporting men with testicular cancer in the South West
Bristol Testicular Cancer Service, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust

In 2009 Sue Brand at Germ Cell CNS was approached by Rob Buy, who had been diagnosed with testicular cancer, to set up a fund to allow men in the Bristol region to donate and/or raise money for their local service in the South West. Initial meetings with patients revealed that they were impressed by Bristol Service and wanted to ensure that all men in the South West had access to and were given the right support. 

Sue and Rob together with Dr Jeremy Braybrooke and an enthusiastic group of patients created It’s in the Bag. Designer Andrew Styles took the slogan, which was voted for by patients, together with Sue’s ideas for the logo and created Orange Pants! The branding gave this young group of men an identity and an avenue to give something back to a devastating illness. 

The concept of supporting the clinical service, improving the patient experience, raising awareness, celebrating survival became themes. 

Two years on, in 2011, It’s in the Bag charity fund (a part of Above & Beyond) and patient forum formally stated its aims: raising awareness; raising money; supporting and celebrating survival. It’s in the Bag also launched the Keep Calm and Check Your Balls campaign – a campaign designed by patients, aimed at raising public awareness of the disease. 

Some £144,000 has been raised to fund, develop and organise clinical service improvements, patient information, survival strategies and support initiatives to continue to help patients and their families.

With the help of volunteers from Jelf Group the organisation is on its way to achieving its goals throughout the South West, and build a model that can be rolled out across the UK. It’s in the Bag has already rolled out its Living Well with the Impact of Testicular Cancer course to adjoining networks.


Highly Commended

HeadSmart: be brain tumour aware
The Brain Tumour Charity

One quarter of all childhood cancers occur in the brain. They are the biggest cancer killer of children and young people. 

Early diagnosis can improve outcomes – saving lives and reducing long-term disabilities, such as blindness, deafness, learning difficulties and mobility problems. However, on average, it takes longer to be diagnosed in the UK than in many other countries.

HeadSmart – be Brain Tumour Aware is a national campaign raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of brain tumours in children and young people among the public and health professionals to reduce the time to diagnosis, and enhance the emotional, psychological and financial benefits for the patient, their families and society.

Diagnosing childhood brain tumours is not easy – many initial symptoms are non-specific and mimic more common, less serious disorders. As a result, parents or young people may put off visiting their doctor. Doctors may not feel confident in their ability to diagnose these brain tumours and to refer appropriately.

To overcome these issues, HeadSmart developed resources for public and professional use, for example, age-stratified, pocket-sized symptoms cards, a mobile phone symptoms guide, a decision-support website and an online health professional training package. Using these and multiple, complementary methods of communication/dissemination – publications, media/social media, online, conferences and networks – it has started to achieve results with the average time to diagnosis being reduced from 9.3 weeks pre-launch to 7.5 weeks currently. The aim is to reduce it to five weeks in line with the best figures from other countries.

HeadSmart, launched in June 2011, is a partnership between the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre at the University of Nottingham, the Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and The Health Foundation. Its materials are based on NHS Evidence accredited guideline Diagnosis of Brain Tumours in Children.



Working collaboratively to improve patients’ experience: pre-chemotherapy group sessions at the Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre
Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre, Mount Vernon Cancer Centre

The time before receiving treatment is often a period of high anxiety, and receiving information and support prior to treatment has been shown to improve patient outcomes.

Over the past two years the information team at the Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre (LJMC) has worked to develop pre-chemotherapy sessions in a group setting that provide support for patients and their carers before they start their chemotherapy treatment at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre. 

Accessing the LJMC is as simple as ‘dropping in’ but this can be a daunting task for vulnerable patients overwhelmed by their diagnosis and start of treatment. 

Introducing pre-treatment information in the non-clinical setting of the LJMC ensures that patients and carers are aware of the support available to them throughout their treatment at the information centre and helps them walk through the door a second time.

The successful delivery of pre-chemotherapy information at the LJMC hinges on efforts of a team of volunteers, patient information professionals and chemotherapy-trained nurses at the centre. It is this collaboration that ensures that the experience of patients attending these sessions is holistic and positive, achieving the goal that patients are well informed and aware of the physical and emotional support available to help them and their families throughout their course of chemotherapy treatment. 

What we are continuing to strive to achieve is summed up by one of our patients who said: “The information I was given was excellent, in friendly, comfortable surroundings making a difficult and worrying time in my life a pleasant experience.” Ovarian cancer patient.


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