It is St Andrew’s Day tomorrow (Friday) and our readers are being invited to dig out their tartan to help Cancer Support Scotland.
You would be a poor Scot if you didn’t have at least one piece of tartan in your wardrobe.
And Cancer Support Scotland is hoping readers will dig out their trews, kilts or scarves to show their support on November 30.
For the charity, which helps provide emotional support for more than 2000 Scots every year, is hosting a special St Andrew’s Day event this Friday to help raise awareness and funds.
People who take part are invited to share their efforts at #weartartanforaday.
Most importantly, though, it’s a day for everyone affected by cancer; a time to reach out to people with a cancer diagnosis, as well as their family and carers.
Some 30,000 people in Scotland are told they have cancer every year and trends predict that this number is likely to rise to almost 35,000 by 2020.
So Cancer Support Scotland’s awareness day is perfectly timed.
Madaline Alexander, interim chief executive, said: “With earlier diagnoses and people living longer with cancer our services are in demand more than ever now, with many people returning to a ‘new normal’ after cancer treatment.
“I’m delighted more people are discovering our services and using them.
“It demonstrates people recognise the need to talk.
“Cancer Support Scotland’s wear tartan for a day is an important way to raise awareness of the emotional support we provide.
“We’re asking people to show support for someone dealing with cancer by wearing tartan on St Andrew’s Day, November 30.
“One small gesture of kindness can make all the difference to someone affected by cancer.
“So please make time to talk, ask how someone is and what you can do to help.”
The charity is also hoping businesses and community groups will show their support too by staging fundraising events.
Madaline said: “We’d love people to hold a dress down day with tartan as the theme or a bake sale with a touch of tartan and donate funds to Cancer Support Scotland.
“We do not receive any NHS or government funding – we rely entirely on public donations for our services – so every penny counts.”
Cancer Support Scotland is also holding an open day at its headquarters at the Calman Centre on the Gartnavel Campus in Glasgow on November 30 from 10am to 4pm.
Visitors will enjoy complementary therapy taster sessions and counsellors will also be on hand to talk.
And it’s not just cancer patients who are invited – family and friends are welcome to pop in too.
Madaline said: “Providing support for family members and carers is essential in the work that we do.
“According to research from Manchester University, carers of terminally ill patients are up to seven times more likely to have mental health problems.
“We are here not only for those living with or who have survived cancer but for their families and carers too.”
Via the Calman Centre and outreach centres across central and east Scotland, the charity supports people, families and carers affected by cancer by offering a broad range of free complementary therapies, counselling, podiatry and stress management workshops.
People from all over the country also use the services, from as far afield as the Borders to the Highlands and Islands.
All too often, people who have survived cancer struggle after treatment.
And it is at this point they reach out for help from Cancer Support Scotland.
Madaline explained: “Every single person is different which is why we provide a one-to-one service.
“Improvements in cancer treatment mean people often work through their diagnosis or go back to work quickly after they recover.
“They start to look better and people think they’re doing great.
“But often that’s when they are really starting to struggle emotionally.
“It’s the ‘new normal’ after treatment they struggle with.
“They may look the same on the outside but don’t feel the same on the inside.
“They’ve gone into survival mode during their treatment but are frightened that their cancer is going to come back and are worried about every ache and pain.
“It helps if they have support through that and have people who understand what’s happening to them.
“That’s why it’s important to ask how someone is – our awareness day gives people the chance to do that.”
Doug Speake, colorectal surgeon at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, is also backing the awareness day.
He said: “It is not possible to overstate how important emotional support is for patients when a diagnosis of cancer is made.
“Often the most important aspect of a patient’s care, and for their families and carers, is the support they receive. Getting that right is crucial.”
To support Cancer Support Scotland, text CALM 13 followed by the amount of your donation to 70070. For example if you want to donate £10 simply text CALM13£10.
Celebrity support for Cancer Support Scotland
Cancer Support Scotland was founded in 1980 by Sir Kenneth Calman, a consultant working with cancer patients.
Having noticed the need for support for patients after treatment he started a support group, originally called Tak Tent, an old Scot’s phrase for Take Care.
Its aim was to provide emotional support and holistic therapies for patients going through or recovering from the disease.
The charity changed its name seven years ago but Tak Tent remains at the heart of its work.
And Sir Kenneth and his family, including his daughter, comedian, presenter and author Susan, remain firm supporters of the charity’s work.
Indeed, Susan will be wearing tartan this Friday to show her support for the awareness day.
She said: “I’m an ambassador for Cancer Support Scotland, a great charity that does fantastic work. I’ll be wearing tartan on November 30 to show my support for the awareness day.”
The charity needs to raise £550,000 every year to provide its services, all of which are funded by public donations.
This includes providing emotional support to cancer patients and their families over the phone on its freephone helpline, 0800 652 4531.
Donations to the charity can be made on the donate now button on its website at www.cancersupportscotland.org or call the Calman Centre if you would like to volunteer or donate on 0141 337 8199.
The charity has 17 members of staff, supported by an incredible team of 184 volunteers who offer support and advice to people all over Scotland, via the Calman Centre, a number of outreach centres and the freephone helpline.