Search

Charity offers shining beacon of hope for adult cancer sufferers with no-one to turn to

08:00 12 July 2014

Leukaemia sufferer Chris Riley, chairman of The Miltons Residents Association, talks about his work with cancer charity Shine. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Leukaemia sufferer Chris Riley, chairman of The Miltons Residents Association, talks about his work with cancer charity Shine. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Too old to rely on parents, too young to join the countless support groups for elderly patients – who is there to turn to when you are diagnosed with cancer in your 20s, 30s or 40s?

This was the question Chris Riley, of Milton Avenue, Highgate, asked when he received the devastating news that he had leukaemia just weeks after celebrating his 40th birthday.

Feeling isolated, Mr Riley turned to the national charity, Shine Cancer Support, shortly after the network for adults was founded in 2008.

He is now co-chairman of the charity’s London branch and wants to reach out to anyone who feels hit by loneliness.

“It’s difficult because you’re young and your parents find it particularly hard – the idea of their child dying before them,” Mr Riley, now 45, said.

“I also found that a lot of your friends abandon you for many different reasons. People don’t want to face mortality at that age and people don’t know how to deal with it.”

He added: “I needed more support, and that’s why I went to Shine. It was quite frustrating, because you want to talk about it, not all the time, but you need to let it out.”

The support group gets together once a month but its meetings are far removed from the stereotypical image of people sitting in a circle in a church hall revealing the stories behind their illnesses. Instead members go for dinner, to a bar, or go bowling, as anyone else in the same age range would do.

For the first time this year, all the charity’s support network groups flocked to Bournemouth in January for a weekend of relaxing by the seaside.

“The group has taken all the mental pressure off the illness,” said Mr Riley, who is also chairman of The Miltons Residents’ Association in Highgate. “Being involved has really built my confidence, and I’ve made some really good friends who probably will be friends for life.”

It has been five years since Mr Riley was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, a disease that progresses very slowly and can be kept under control with treatment for many years.

It is rare for people under 40 to contract the illness and about 75 per cent of sufferers are diagnosed after they reach 60.

“Right on my 40th birthday I had a letter from the hospital,” Mr Riley said. “I wasn’t diagnosed but I knew something was wrong and the hospital was being very cagey about it.

“It seems strange but the support group normalises it. You feel isolated, so when you meet other people you realise it’s not the end of the world.”

n To join email london@shinecancersupport.org.uk.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Friday, December 2, 2016

Police are appealing for witnesses after the death of a woman who was hit by a coach in Camden.

Friday, December 2, 2016

A City boss from Hampstead likened to the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ has been jailed for a year after sexually assaulting two women.

Friday, December 2, 2016

A pedestrian was hit by a car in South Grove in a road traffic collision this afternoon.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Welcome, hope and tolerance have been the three key messages for students learning about refugees.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Camden Council has claimed a “major victory” after Airbnb announced today that it will limit entire home listings to 90 days a year in London.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Haringey has the third-highest proportion of homeless residents in England, new figures have revealed.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

In the first of a series written from the Greek town of Thessaloniki, currently home to more than 20,000 refugees, a trainee journalist from Kentish Town writes about her life as a volunteer

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A pair of Barnet schools believe the future is bright after announcing a “strategic partnership” on Monday.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now