01480 416410 aburridge@nhs.net


We hold 2 conferences a year which are free to attend and designed to empower you with appropriate information in the world of cancer.

Our aim is to keep you up to date with information on cancer research, knowledge and care, emotional well-being, diet and exercise and all are delivered by experts in their fields.

They are interactive and relaxed and, as far as possible, we will seat people with similar cancers together so that you can share your experiences with people who understand.

25th April 2018 at Huntingdon Race Course.

The agenda was below: (please click on each page to enlarge)

HCCN Conference Agenda 2018-1    HCCN Conference Agenda 2018-2

HCCN held its 9th bi-annual conference on April 25th at the Huntingdon Racecourse. The conference is provided by the charity arm of HCCN which raises funds for all the activities offered to support people as they cope with a cancer diagnosis. Karen Moseley, lead nurse of HCCN, explained that the conference brings together people in different places on their cancer journey and are important because natural support groups can develop – as well as offering time for people to talk to the nursing team in a relaxed environment.

Karen Moseley - Aug17

In introducing the topics for the day, Karen explained that the content is carefully chosen as cancer brings with it many emotional issues and physical changes – not all of which are easily addressed in the home through conversations with loved ones. Bringing together specialists to explore and facilitate those more difficult conversations in a very down to earth way can be valuable, allowing them to be developed later at home and with the nursing team.

Managing Intimate Relationships after cancer

This was the perfect introduction to Karen Gardiner, Managing Director of Purple Orchid who led an engaging session on Managing Intimate Relationships after cancer. Purple Orchid is called the women’s self-care company rather than health-care company as they are committed to the idea of looking after ourselves better to enjoy good health for longer in life. Self-care is about being proactive, making decisions about what’s best for us not just during medical treatment but before we even need it, possibly to avoid it. Thus her message resonated strongly with everything HCCN knows about lifestyle and cancer. Maintaining healthy habits on an everyday basis means our bodies are getting the best possible chance to become and stay healthy and strong. Balanced nutrition, adequate physical activity and avoiding toxins such as nicotine and alcohol prepare the body for the challenges it faces every day.

Purple Orchid specialises in the area of women’s health which is “above the knee, below the waist and at the front”– that’s the bit people least want to discuss. When active treatment has finished, some survivors’ needs change and relationships may shift. A significant number of cancer patients will experience physical, emotional and psychological changes to their intimate relationships. Your thoughts and feelings about your own sexuality, sexual intercourse and intimacy may change and open honest communication is essential. Some symptoms such as vaginal atrophy, radiation cystitis and vaginal shortening, tightening and pain during intercourse can be addressed with Purple Orchid products. A good psychosexual counsellor can also help couples rediscover their intimate relationship with each other.

Describing a range of products to help with such physical issues, Karen came with free samples which certainly brought smiles to many faces. Two in particular:

  • Vaginal dryness is a relatively simple condition with the product Hyalofemme as a simple solution. Hyalofemme is a hormone free, effective and well accepted solution for all women who experience vaginal dryness.
  • Gepan instill has demonstrated good clinical results with bladder problems such as interstitial cystitis, overactive bladder syndrome, radiation cystitis and chronically recurring cystitis.

Then came the opportunity to touch and feel some vaginal dilators supplied by Pleasure Solutions. Pleasure Solutions works closely with both medical professionals and people who’ve experienced health issues to design safe, sensory sex tools that help you to connect with your body. Embracing the changes in intimacy can be one of the most challenging parts of feeling ‘you’ again.

Macmillan recognises that around 350,000 people in the UK experience sexual consequences due to cancer and its treatment. The topic of sex after cancer can be neglected by medical professionals – but your HCCN nurses are now equipped to discuss these issues and help in practical ways. Nurse Karen is investigating how people requiring these products can obtain them through the NHS.




Memories are made of this


Next, our very own Marion Foreman – in her own style – challenged us with ‘If you knew when it was coming, would you do anything differently?’. The ‘it’ being your death:

Her lively presentation looked at death from a number of angles. She included a Dean Martin song, a BBC video made by Kathryn Mannix (a palliative care doctor) and a poem from Helen Dunmore.


She went on to tell us the inspiring story of George Monbiot, a columnist with The Guardian, recently diagnosed with prostate cancer who applies three principles which he believes sit at the heart of a good life. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/13/prostate-cancer-happy-diagnosis-operation

In closing, Marion summarised her message as:


If you want to be remembered as a miserable git – go ahead

But if we want to be remembered as loving and kind – here is our opportunity

Every day we have a choice – make the most of it

Write that letter, make that phone call

Tell that person how much they mean to you

Leave behind your love – the world will benefit


Nutrition for Health and Wellness


After lunch, Julia Wolman, Public Health Engagement Manager joined us from the World Cancer Research Fund, which is the UK’s leading cancer prevention charity. They fund global research into the links between diet, weight, physical activity and cancer. Their work empowers people to take action to lead healthier, happier, cancer-free lives – the message HCCN believes we should all hear in relation to nutrition and well-being. Julia brought a wide range of information leaflets, health guides, recipe books, and more.

She began her session by describing the WCRF’s Continuous Update Project – which analyses the latest evidence on a range of cancers and produces key findings and reports – global research on preventing cancer. They analyse the research so we have access to the best cancer prevention advice in the world. https://www.wcrf.org/int/continuous-update-project/continuous-update-project-findings-reports

She then became quiz master and took us through an enjoyable test of our knowledge on a range of ‘facts’ about diet, maintaining a healthy weight and physical activity. https://www.wcrf.org/int/continuous-update-project/our-cancer-prevention-recommendations



Break out groups


Later in the afternoon, we had for the first time at conference an opportunity to move into smaller, ‘break out’ groups that demonstrated the range of skills and activities that the HCCN team can offer.


What Is Acupuncture? – Karen Moseley and Harriet Da Costa

Acupuncture treatment involves fine needles being inserted through the skin and left in position briefly. The number of needles varies and treatment may be once a week initially then at longer intervals as the condition responds. A typical course of treatment lasts 5-8 sessions. Acupuncture stimulates the nerves in the skin, muscle and other tissues and can produce a variety of effects. We know that it increases the release of the body’s natural painkillers, including endorphin and serotonin. Acupuncture can do more than simply reduce pain. Current research shows that acupuncture can have an effect on many of the body’s systems – the nervous system, muscle tone, hormone production, circulation and allergic responses, as well as the respiratory, digestive, urinary and reproductive systems.


Quick Nutritious Snacks – Andrea Cliff

A session devised to show how to have high calorie, tasty, nutritious snacks, that are easy and quick to make, when you are struggling with energy and appetite.


Complementary Therapies: A need for a collaborative and adapted approach – Annie Thantrey and Andi Lines

While tense muscles may be soothed by massage, gentle work can be just as effective if the therapist and client work together to find ways that the client might better manage their tension. This is a more collaborative approach that is both empowering and person centred.


Exercise why bother? – Marion Foreman

An exploration into why adopting a healthy lifestyle matters – before going on to talk about and demonstrate how to develop an active lifestyle without needing to take out gym membership.


In closing out the day, the nurses took the lead in demonstrating the importance of exercise by launching a virtual walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End via Huntingdon, 972.5 miles. Karen said the team would not count the miles completed whilst working but team members will take on extra activities!


The nurses


The next conference will be held on November 6th. Conferences are free to attend and delegates may bring a partner with them. For further information please contact Amanda Burridge 01480 416410 or email aburridge@nhs.net