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For Everyone Touched By Cancer

How Good Things Foundation digital skills is helping the NHS and patients with Cancer

Written by Sarah Cardwell on 
28th March, 2018
Updated: 29th January, 2024
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

As a married mum of 2 young girls, it’s sad to say that we have nursed two of our parents through cancer.

My father-in-law Tony, was diagnosed with lung cancer just 3 weeks after his wife, my husband's mother, had passed away. We had a 2 month old baby & a 2 year old. We cared and nursed him through his 9 months of treatment before he sadly lost his battle in St Lukes Hospice Sheffield, where we were all with him in his final moments in 2010. Then in 2015 my mum had ovarian cancer and passed away within 6 weeks of her diagnosis. She wanted to remain at home, so we cared daily for her & once again we were fortunate to be with her when she took her final breath. Her illness was so short & painful, it had a deep impact on me.

In November 2017 I started working as Executive Assistant to the CEO, Helen Milner OBE at Good Things Foundation.

Good Things Foundation is a social change charity that helps people to improve their lives through digital.

Working in the UK (and more recently Australia and Kenya), Good Things Foundation brings together thousands of community partners to make up the Online Centres Network, reaching deep into communities to help people gain the support and skills they need to change their lives and overcome social challenges. One of the big areas they work in is digital health - helping people gain and use digital skills to better manage their own health, learn about symptoms and make informed decisions around their own care - and this was a big draw for me in wanting to work for them.

When I first started, one of the people I heard about was Marita Sherwood.

Marita began learning at one of our Online Centres and not only did her new skills help her to research and get a diagnosis for herself of Fibromyalgia, she also uses it to research her son’s ADHD. Marita won the Learning for Health Award because of her amazing story. But the skills she learnt helped her most when Chance, her teenage daughter was diagnosed with spine cancer. Marita said without the internet, they would have felt completely in the dark. It was amazing that she and her daughter could use Marita’s new skills, to make the most of the internet for health reasons, and actually feel like there was light at the end of the tunnel. Thankfully, Chance is now in remission.

Digital can help people with managing their health in all kinds of ways.

Information is widely available online (although it’s important to teach people where to find accurate information from sources they can trust) and apps can help track and record symptoms.

One Online Centre even uses voice recognition assistance for cancer patients and their carers who may have additional visual or hearing needs.

The tablets and training they provide mean that life is made that little bit easier for patients at a difficult time when they may find it hard to get out of the house to do shopping or banking... all things that can be done online to take some of the stress out of daily chores. 

Digital can also help people connect with others in the same boat.

Sharing & talking online about our experiences can really help. I use my own blog to share my thoughts like, Losing my mum to Ovarian Cancer, now I blog about everything. You can read more of my blogs and follow my journey here at Sarah’s Thinking Again.

Good Things Foundation believe that digital can be an enabler to help people in all aspects of their health

We are currently working with NHS Digital to deliver a Widening Digital Participation programme, co-designing 20 pathfinders over the next 3 years to help the most excluded groups see how digital can improve their health outcomes. Our Service Delivery Manager, Pete Nuckley, is passionate about helping people re-engage with the NHS when perhaps they have dropped out of the system and have lost trust.

One area we will be exploring in the next 12-18 months is how digital can improve the lives of those with Cancer.

If you are interested in finding out more then please contact Pete at pete [@] goodthingsfoundation.org

Further reading

Thoughtful Ovarian Cancer Gifts

About the Good Things Foundation

Cancer Care Parcel Charity Partners

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