To work or not to work; balancing employment with chronic disease

London, 13 March 2013. Much of the current approach to the treatment of people of working age reflects an assumption that illness is incompatible with being in work, according to Dame Carol Black, chair of the Department of Health’s Public Health Responsibility Deal, Health at Work Network. However, as she will discuss at breast cancer charity Cancerkin’s1 annual lecture on the 19th March, work is beneficial for the health of most people of working age.

Statistics show that around 7% of the working age population are workless and receiving incapacity benefits because of long-term health conditions or disabilities2. And, for most people, their work is a key determinant of self-worth, family esteem, identity and standing within the community, as well as means of social participation and fulfilment. It is also often crucial, of course, for people to regain their income, especially if they have been on unpaid leave or reduced pay.

Research has also shown that remaining in, or returning to work can promote recovery and lead to better health outcomes. Much sickness absence and inactivity follow common health conditions and chronic diseases which, given the right support, are compatible with work, although sometimes it means a different kind of work. Finally, it must also be recognised that some people are too unwell or disabled to work at all and their needs too should be answered promptly and adequately.

Cancerkin CEO Victoria Todd said: “We see the importance our patients place on employment – particularly the younger women. Returning to work can provide a sense of self-worth, which breast cancer often takes away, and restores normality. However, we also often deal with problems from returning to work too fast, or because specific issues have not been addressed.”

As Tim Davidson, Consultant breast surgeon at the Royal Free and Cancerkin’s Medical Director adds: “Modern treatment of breast cancer, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy, can enable patients to return to work, or can be carried out alongside employment. Cancerkin’s Lymphoedema Clinic, for example, treats women who have developed chronic lymphoedema to manage their disease, often allowing them to remain to in employment.”

Dame Carol Black’s lecture ‘Wellbeing and work – are they compatible with chronic diseases?’ will explore chronic diseases and their relationship to work. The lecture is in the Atrium at the Royal Free Hospital at 5.45pm for a 6.30pm start. For reservations, contact Holly on h.lovering@cancerkin.org.uk. Admission is free.

Notes to editors

1 Set up in 1987 as the first hospital-based, dedicated breast cancer charity in the UK, Cancerkin offers supportive care services to those living with the disease. The charity helps hundreds of women each year deal with the trauma of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Please see www.cancerkin.org.uk for more information

2 Black, Carol (2008). Working for a healthier tomorrow – a comprehensive review of work and health;p21. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/hwwb-working-for-a-healthier-tomorrow.pdf

CANCERKIN LIGHTS UP THE HILLSIDE WITH BEACON OF HOPE

London, 7th January 2013. UK breast cancer charity Cancerkin, in collaboration with world-renowned light artist Bruce Munro, is to construct a modern day beacon on a hill outside Bath on 2nd March next year. The beacon will be constructed from 2,730 individually lit plastic bottles and is designed to illuminate the night sky from miles around the site, sending out a universal message of hope.

“Anyone whose life has been touched by breast cancer can be part of this light show, by sponsoring a light and attaching to it their own personal message, helping to illuminate the night with their hopes. So far, over 2,000 bottles have been sponsored, raising over £4,700 with messages from those who have lost, loved and survived,” said Cancerkin CEO, Victoria Todd.

The installation, dubbed ‘Beacon on the Hill’, will be placed bottle by bottle on a 288 metre chalk hill just outside Bath. This presents a huge physical and logistical challenge; the installation was planned to be lit up on 27th November this year but flooding in the area was so severe that safety experts decided to postpone the event.

The artist was inspired to produce this work by the memory of a close friend, lost to breast cancer at just 33. “This hill and surrounding countryside has long been my ‘canvas’. I lost a dear friend very young to breast cancer. By illuminating the night sky for a brief moment, I hope to send the message “you are not alone”, said artist Bruce Munro.

Beacon on the Hill will be lit on the night of 2nd March 2013, in front of what is expected to be a large crowd of supporters from across the country. The moment will be captured by photographers, adding this work to the catalogue of images from Bruce’s work at the V&A and Longwood Gardens, ensuring Beacon on the Hill will continue to be a symbol of hope and unity long after the lights are turned out.

“This is a special event which we hope will draw attention to the issue of breast cancer in a remarkable way; donations, large or small, will to help fund our specialised support services for women.” said Cancerkin CEO Victoria Todd.

Ends

Notes to editors

Supporters have until the 2nd March 2013 to sponsor a bottle with their personal message. To take part, they can download a bottle sponsorship form from the Cancerkin website (www.cancerkin.org.uk), visit our JustGiving page or simply call Cancerkin on 020 7830 2323 to make a donation and leave a personal message.

Cancerkin was set up in 1987 as the first hospital-based, dedicated breast cancer charity in the UK, Cancerkin offers supportive care services to those living with the disease. The charity helps hundreds of women each year deal with the trauma of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Bruce Munro is a British lighting designer and installation artist. Munro is best known for lighting installations such as Field of Light, which was first exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, in 2004. Bruce’s most recent exhibition has just been held to critical acclaim in America at the historic Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania, with the 23-acre show drawing record numbers to the gardens to experience the night time transformation. See www.brucemunro.co.uk for more information.

CANCERKIN1 LIGHTS 2730 MESSAGES OF HOPE AND SUPPORT IN 2730 BOTTLES

(8/10/2012, London) In Breast Cancer Awareness month UK breast cancer charity Cancerkin is linking up with world-renowned light artist Bruce Munro2 on a light show with a message – a message of hope. Bruce is constructing a modern day beacon, formed from 2730 plastic bottles individually lit in Cancerkin’s colours of pink and blue. Anyone affected by breast cancer can be part of this light show by sponsoring a light, attaching a personal message, helping to illuminate the night with their hopes and supporting Cancerkin’s work with their sponsorship.

At five metres wide and three metres high, the installation – called ‘Beacon On The Hill’ – will be placed bottle by bottle on a 288 metre chalk hill near Bath. A huge physical and logistical challenge, it will take a week for a team of five, working in all weathers, to construct this one-off installation, ensuring ‘Beacon’, and all it stands for, can be seen for miles. 

Bruce Munro lost a close friend to breast cancer at 33 and it was her memory that inspired Bruce to create an installation to help Cancerkin continue to support those affected by the disease. He comments, “This hill and surrounding countryside has long been my ‘canvas’. I lost a dear friend very young to breast cancer and meeting Victoria Todd from Cancerkin was the link needed for me to create my own incarnation of a beacon of light in support of all who are, or have been,  affected by this disease. By illuminating the night sky for a brief moment, I hope to send the message “you are not alone”.”

Beacon on the Hill will be lit up on the night of 24th November, in front of what is expected to be a large crowd of supporters from across the country. The moment will be captured by a series of images, ensuring Beacon on the Hill will continue to be a symbol of hope and unity long after the lights are turned out.  

“This is a special event which we hope will draw attention to the issue of breast cancer in a remarkable way; by sponsoring a bottle, anyone can show their support no matter what their connection to the issue. In memory of Bruce’s friend, and any other women affected by breast cancer, donations – large or small – from bottle sponsorship will go to help fund our specialized support services for young women.” said Cancerkin CEO Victoria Todd.  

This project will be officially launched at Cancerkin’s Theatre Event, ‘The Judas Kiss’, on the 10th of October. From then, supporters will have six weeks to sponsor a bottle with their personal message. To take part, you can download a bottle sponsorship form from the Cancerkin website (www.cancerkin.org.uk) or simply call Cancerkin on 020 7830 2323 to make a donation and leave your personal message.

Notes to Editors

[1] Set up in 1987 as the first hospital-based, dedicated breast cancer charity in the UK, Cancerkin offers supportive care services to those living with the disease. The charity helps hundreds of women each year deal with the trauma of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

2Bruce Munro is a British lighting designer and installation artist. Munro is best known for lighting installations such as Field of Light, which was first exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, in 2004. Bruce’s most recent exhibition has just been held to critical acclaim in America at the historic Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania, with the 23-acre show drawing record numbers to the gardens to experience the night time transformation. See www.brucemunro.co.uk for more information.