WORLD CANCER DAY 2021 - Janet & Alan's story

“People tell me I have been through the mill but the NHS and CancerCare helped get met through the other side.”

On World Cancer Day, we tell the story of Janet and Alan Ladds from Barrow - both of who we helped when Alan was diagnosed with bowel cancer two years ago.

When clients come to CancerCare for support with whatever they are coping with, whether a cancer diagnosis or bereavement in their family, our staff and therapists very often become friends.

That is certainly the case with Alan and Janet, a retired couple who we met when we opened our first centre in the offices at Trinity Church, Barrow in 2017.

The couple are active members of the church and would chat regularly to our Development & Engagement Officer Rachel Minshull while they were visiting Trinity over the weeks and months that followed.

However, their relationship with us took on a different dimension in 2019 when Alan was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Following a major operation and subsequent recuperation, Rachel supported the couple and encouraged them both to undergo therapy with us.

Janet said: “It was a massive shock and within three weeks of being diagnosed Alan was being operated on at FGH. Afterwards Rachel was fantastic. Nothing was too much trouble and she helped us get the support we both really needed at that time.”

Alan was referred for counselling with our professional therapist Adam Hussein for the anxiety and mental strains associated with what he had been through. He was initially wary as he had had a negative experience of counselling some years previously, but he needn’t have worried as he struck up an “instant rapport” with Adam.

“Adam is one of the best counsellors I have ever had.  I felt we had a real connection and he was just so easy to get on with.  He helped me with a lot of things without me even realising it at the time. The sessions just seemed to fly by and I was always disappointed when they came to an end, “ said Alan.

When we opened at Trinity Church in January 2017, the centre was predicted to have around 65 referrals however, the actual number of people through the doors was more than double that number. Prior to lockdown in March last year, the Barrow centre had provided therapy for around 430 local people in just over three years.

CancerCare also helps the family of people with a cancer diagnosis and Janet began receiving reflexology from therapist Liz McGrory.

“It made a massive difference to me – It helped me to chill out and I just felt that I could handle things better. It was fantastic to have an hour where I didn’t have to worry, thinking about everything that was going on. Liz is also a great listener and I felt able to let things go.”

“CancerCare has made a big difference to our lives. We have come through a lot together as a couple and whatever was going on, we always knew there was someone there who we could go to which was so important. Nothing was ever too much trouble.”

We recently moved from Trinity into a new centre on Duke Street in the town centre and Alan is looking forward to resuming his counselling with Adam when the centre reopens (Adam continued counselling via telephone but Alan declined in favour of returning for one-to-one sessions when restrictions eased).

“It’s a fantastic resource for Barrow. The range of things that they offer is amazing, I thought I would just get help during my treatment but it is right the way through from diagnosis, and I hope the new bigger centre will help them support even more local people,” said Alan.

This February should have been the grand opening of the new Duke Street centre.  We have had to postpone due to the COVID restrictions. However, we would still like to mark the month and spread some love across our community by decorating the centre window with messages of love, hope, kindness and happiness.

This could be a message for a loved one you are unable to hug, in memory of someone you have lost, a message to say thank you or I love you. Valentine’s Day will look a little different this year. Why not send a new kind of card? We are asking for our supporters to purchase a small (£2) , medium (£3) or large heart (£5) to display in our window. Each heart will have a personalised message from you to a loved one!

For more info and to buy - click here CancerCare's Month of Love | Tickets ( 

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