People across the East of England are being invited to join a free online event to talk about cancer, with expert speakers and discussion groups.

The two Cancer Alliances that cover the region are throwing open their virtual doors for the first time, in order to hear people’s views and concerns about cancer, following almost a year overshadowed by the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The online event, Let’s Talk About Cancer, will be held on Tuesday 2 March, from 10am to 3pm, with breakout sessions and a lunch break so that people can choose which parts to join from the comfort of home.

Anyone interested or affected by cancer is welcome to hear expert speakers, join workshops or discussions and connect with others.

Two keynote speakers are:

  • Professor Robert Thomas, internationally renowned cancer expert and author, best known locally as consultant oncologist at Bedford and Addenbrookes Hospitals. He also lectures at Cambridge University and is Visiting Professor of Sports and Nutritional Science at the University of Bedfordshire.
    Prof Thomas chairs the Macmillan exercise expert advisory committee. He designed the UK’s first government approved qualification in exercise rehabilitation for cancer patients and is author of the book “Lifestyle after Cancer – the facts” and more recently, the Amazon bestseller “How To Live”.
    How to Live: The groundbreaking lifestyle guide to keep you healthy, fit and free of illness: Amazon.co.uk: Professor Robert Thomas: Books

There will be numerous breakout sessions, including one on how to talk to children about cancer, led by Laura Woods from the Cancer Alliances’ Patient Advisory Board, showcasing the pioneering work of The Little C Club flashcards. These were developed by young mums Nicola Owen and Jennifer Pope, who met as a result of breast cancer, and as a nurse and teacher combined their skills to create colourful cards to help explain cancer to children aged from three to 10.

Other sessions include a drama by professional actors; a discussion on how cultural influences affect cancer and coping with a cancer diagnosis.

The aim is to reach more people affected by cancer – including patients, families and carers – to ensure their voices are heard and to consider how diversity and equality can be improved.

Marion Foreman, who co-chairs the East of England Cancer Alliances’ Patient Advisory Board, said: “We are delighted to be offering this open invitation which we hope will reach the far corners of our communities, so that we can have honest conversations about cancer and hopefully break down some barriers.

“We want to make sure that the Cancer Alliances, through the Patient Advisory Board, are really listening to local people and helping to connect and support them.”

An introductory welcome to the event will be given by Nick Hulme, Chief Executive at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, who also chairs the Cancer Alliance (North) Board.

To register, please email england.eoecancerallianceteam@nhs.net to receive joining instructions in advance – people will not be able to join on the day without pre-registering and numbers are limited.

For further event information, including full agenda for the day, please email england.eoecancerallianceteam@nhs.net or telephone 07702 430031/07495785955