MogaDad talks… Cancer Support

It’s the halfway stage in my Movember campaign and what a month it’s been so far. With my top lip becoming increasingly furry, people are questioning whether I’m going through a midlife crisis or ‘doing that Movember thing’. It’s actually both (!) but more than anything it’s about raising awareness of men’s health issues and providing a platform to talk about them through my Yoga For Men classes in Keynsham, Bristol.

After the huge success of the Suicide Prevention Bristol talk last week, it was the turn of Frome-based cancer counselling support service, We Hear You (WHY) this Monday evening at Keynsham Baptist Church. To be honest, I hadn’t heard of WHY before Movember. It’s in the bag, the testicular cancer charity delivering the talk next Monday (18 Nov) referred me onto WHY, as they often work together, and I’m so glad they did.

WHY provides free professional counselling to children and adults affected by cancer and other life threatening conditions, across Somerset, Bath & North East Somerset and Wiltshire. They provide support to patients, family members, carers, friends and colleagues – anyone who may be affected.

Eleni, a WHY counsellor, joined us for Monday’s talk, and I was honoured that Eleni was also able to join us for my Yoga For Men class too. With all payments donated, collectively we raised an incredible £120 for WHY. The sharp-eyed amongst you will realise that Eleni is not a man, so became our first honorary female student. We joked about the unusual sight of seeing a woman practicing yoga, and how this may catch on!

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It felt timely to have WHY deliver its talk this week. Not least because WHY celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, but also because WHY’s founder, Jill Miller, sadly passed away recently, with her funeral being today (14 Nov). When you read Jill’s story on her own experiences of cancer and the difficulty she encountered in accessing emotional support, you will realise how much WHY has achieved since Jill founded the organisation. From an extra phone line at her kitchen table, to a service that provides an impressive 108 counselling sessions per week and 4,500 counselling sessions each year. My deepest sympathies to Jill’s family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time.

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Image Credit: We Hear You

Of course, the legacy of Jill’s driving force behind WHY will live on. WHY is growing, with referrals to its services having doubled since 2012, Its services are extensive and include up to 16 one-to-one online or in person counselling sessions, creative therapy, group therapy, outdoor therapy, and a new course for couples and pairs of adults, to talk about the impacts of cancer and other life threatening conditions on their relationship.

Most revealing of all from Monday’s talk was the statistics on who uses WHY’s services. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 80% of its clients are women, and so WHY was incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to talk to what is often a hard-to-reach group as men. I came away from the talk feeling totally inspired by what we are achieving together this month through the yoga and local charity talks. Thank you so much for your time, Eleni.



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