FORCE Cancer Charity has launched a campaign to increase support for people living with incurable cancer.
Let’s Face Cancer Together aims to raise awareness of the unique way FORCE is supporting a patient group for whom there is very little dedicated support available.
The Exeter-based charity runs a regular support and education group – Living with Non-Curable Cancer – and has also staged a pioneering retreat day.
More than 20 people living with cancers that cannot be cured came together at Buckfast Abbey to share their experiences and hear from experts in cancer care.
That pilot was so successful that FORCE would like to embed regular retreat days as part of its core services for anyone locally affected by cancer.
To do that, the charity needs to raise £25,000.
“We’re launching the Let’s Face Cancer Together campaign to let more people know about how FORCE can help those coming to terms with a diagnosis of incurable cancer,” said FORCE Oncology Support Specialist Emma Ellis.
“Giving them the opportunity to be with others who understand what they’re going through is invaluable. That was made so clear at our first special retreat day. It was overwhelmingly powerful and we really want to offer more days like that,” she added.
Prostate cancer patient Paul Tucker said: “It’s so important for people who are suffering from incurable cancer to be able to get together, to share our feelings. It’s a real lifeline. It was a wonderful experience the day I went on in Buckfastleigh and I hope the campaign would enable us to be able to fund some more of those days. It would be fantastic.”
His reaction was echoed by Denise Sparkes, who was diagnosed with stage four intestinal cancer in 2022.
“It was hard on my family because they were just watching me go downhill. FORCE were there to help me pick up the pieces because when I did have that diagnosis it was my life changing from one day to the next. They were able to help me on so many different levels and nobody else could do that,” she said.
The Living with Non-Curable Cancer programme has been endorsed by staff at the Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
Consultant oncologist Anne McCormack, who attended the retreat day, said: “One of the most fearful things is knowing that your time is limited and trying to make the most of that time and not be overwhelmed by the feelings that you have about those that you leave behind or how you might die or what do I have to do in preparation. So many of those worries can be alleviated by attending something like this day. I haven’t found anything else like it. This was a unique opportunity for patients.”
Nicky Godfrey, Lead Nurse for Enhanced Supportive Care team in the RDUH Cancer Services department, was on hand to answer clinical questions and was struck by how well patients supported each other.
“The FORCE cancer retreat day was a fantastic opportunity to allow patients to come together, to meet others who are going through similar experiences and to enable them to have a safe space where they could ask questions, talk about their fears and talk about their uncertainty.”
Adrian Codling discovered he had lung and thyroid cancer after suffering a stroke. He wasn’t sure what to expect from the Buckfast retreat but was blown away by how positive it was.
“Friends, family, people you meet just feel sorry for you but they don’t know what you’re going through so all of a sudden I was talking to people who knew what I’d been through and what they were going through and I could help them and they could help me,” he said.
Adrian is urging people to get behind FORCE so more patients can access the support he found so valuable.
“There’s so many of us out here that need your help and every little penny will get us looking forward in stead of backwards. Please support us. Thankyou.”
To donate to the FORCE Let’s Face Cancer Together campaign, go to, justgiving.com/campaign/letsfacecancertogether
There is more information on how FORCE supports people living with non-curable cancer on the charity’s website – forcecancercharity.co.uk/supporting-you/living-with-non-curable-cancer/