Jennifer's story

Thank you for a great service and support you have given me and for helping me to achieve my certification.

Jennifer - credit Henry Smith

Jennifer originates from Sierra Leone, when she came to the UK she had done all sorts of jobs, working in nightclubs and as a hairdresser and cleaner. All of this was tipped upside down when she received a head and neck cancer diagnosis. Following the diagnosis Jennifer had to endure a whole host of challenging treatments including surgery and radiotherapy as well as a 9 month stay in hospital. Treatment left Jennifer’s voice very weak which made communicating hard, this had a huge impact on her confidence and self-esteem.

Jennifer was keen to move forward to engaged with the Macmillan Information Centre at Bart’s Hospital (where she has been treated) and was delighted to receive support from the Macmillan Information & Support Manager based at the Centre. The Manager learnt that Jennifer was keen to find some routine in her daily life and move into work, so she referred her the Macmillan Social Prescribing Service.

Jennifer’s Macmillan Social Prescribing Navigator made a 1-2-1 appointment for her at a library in the local area. In this first hour long session Jennifer shared more about her situation. The side effects of cancer treatment had left her very low in mood and she had been prescribed anti-depressants. Although she was in receipt of benefits this was a strain financially. She was really keen to become financially independent and support her sisters education in Sierra Leone. Although she enjoyed her previous roles she was keen to find a new role that didn’t rely so heavily on her voice and was interested in doing an IT course. Over the course of 6 sessions at the Library with her Navigator Jennifer was able to discuss and resolve and number of key issues.

Jennifer identified that she found the number of appointments she had to attend overwhelming at times. During the sessions with the Navigator, she decided that finding a way of managing her appointments would be the first step to regaining control of her life. Following the conversation she decided to buy a white board to keep track of her appointments.

With the support of the Navigator she found some local drop-in art classes and a community based IT course. To build her confidence and allay her fears it was important for Jennifer to find out as much information as possible prior to attending including the location, route from home and information about the style of delivery. Her Navigator was also able to provide written details of the sessions and locations so that Jennifer was better able to remember them. After trying the art sessions she decided it was not the right group for her and wanted an opportunity to meet other that had been affected by cancer.

Her Navigator connected her to HOPE course starting near her home. This course was run by the local hospice and brought cancer survivors and helped Jennifer learn techniques to manage recovery. She was also informed about free opticians appointments she could access due to being in receipt of benefits. Jennifer has now successfully completed her Level 3 accredited IT course and is continuing to the next stage of the qualification.