We know that having cancer can be isolating. Feeling connected to others can help you feel better, and so we offer a number of support groups which give you the opportunity to meet new people, whilst taking part in an activity you love.
From coffee mornings and book clubs to mindfulness and walking, our clients tell us their support groups help them make new friends, talk openly and ease feelings of loneliness.
What’s more, they can create a community.
There’s an incredible closeness at our three Sing for Life choirs in Cosham, Salisbury and Totton. Here, 140 people living with cancer regularly come together in a relaxed, fun and uplifting environment.
As well as helping its members to form important social bonds, research by the University of Oxford has found that singing in a choir can be beneficial to us physically. It can improve breathing, posture and muscle tension, as well as increasing our happiness and wellbeing.
“One of the best things about our choirs is that there’s no pressure to perform or even turn up every week,” says Sue Edmonds, the musical director of our three Sing for Life choirs. “We feel our choirs really help anyone living with cancer because both music and a sense of belonging can be immensely healing.”
Pete and his wife, Sue, both joined the Cosham Sing for Life choir in 2013. Both have had bowel cancer, major surgery and chemotherapy. He says he finds singing in a choir incredibly uplifting:
“It gives me so much more than just singing. Because we have all lived, or are living, with cancer, we all support each other.
Some people like to talk about it and others come along for the feeling of togetherness – and both are ok. You might feel pretty rubbish when you arrive at practice, for example if you have mouth ulcers caused by chemotherapy, and you wonder if you can do it. But the coming together lifts you and you come away with a big smile that lasts for days.
We’ve had times where we’ve joined with other Sing for Life choirs and that’s just incredible. Thinking about all those voices coming together gives me goose bumps. We recently had our first choir practice in person for almost 18 months and it was fantastic. Although it was great to meet up on Zoom during lockdown, it was great to all be together and see everyone. Sue, our Choir Leader told us we sounded brilliant together.”
Janet, who’s in the Totton choir, says it’s impossible for her to feel blue when she’s singing:
“I was persuaded by the team at the Waterside support centre to join Sing for Life after caring for my brother who died from cancer. At the time I thought, ‘there’s no way I can sing!’ But I’ve been coming for seven years now and never looked back. You meet so many different people, all with an incredible story to share, and we are all a great support to each other. The noise level is quite incredible. It’s impossible to feel down when you’re singing and it’s great fun. I absolutely love it!”
Debate continues about whether in this modern age we are feeling more or less connected, but one thing’s for sure – we feel much better when we come together and find things in common, and know that we belong.
“With the support of our choir leader we’re getting better and better at singing and it’s such a privilege to be able to say to people who come along: I’ve been there, I know how you feel.”