Interview with Angela Daniel, Cancer Support Specialist at Maggie's Manchester

We sat down with Angela Daniel, Cancer Support Specialist at Maggie's Manchester to learn more about her role within Maggie's and how the Centre supports its visitors.


My name is Angela Daniel. I'm one of the cancer support specialists here at Maggie’s Manchester.

My role is very much to talk to visitors who come into the centre, about how their experience of cancer is affecting them. So it might be talking to somebody who's just recently been diagnosed, about their forthcoming treatment or it might be talking to somebody who's just had some bad news that their cancer has sadly come back and they're facing more treatments.

We also talk to a lot of people who are supporting a loved one with cancer too. To everybody who comes into the centre, we offer a range of emotional support, practical support, and social support as well to really help people deal with the situation that they find themselves in.


How long have you been at Maggie's, since the centre opened?


I've been here, since June 2016 and the centre opened in April 2016 so I've been here more or less from the start. Prior to that I was a clinical nurse specialist in palliative care, so I've got a background in nursing.


How would you describe an average day at the Maggie’s centre?


It's really interesting because although there is no such thing as an average day, people do bring very similar issues to Maggie's.

My day generally starts with a cup of tea and I might check emails and some of those may be from people seeking support. But also some of those may be from other professionals who wants to visit the centre, whether that be student nurses or our student architects.

The centre gets busy in terms of visitors usually around mid morning, around 11 o'clock, and people will start coming in then.

People come in for a variety of reasons. They may want a specific piece of information, and we might have to guide them towards the benefits advisors or give them some information about things like travel insurance.

People might want to talk about the side effects of their treatment and they may also want to talk about the impact of cancer on their children. Some people want to come in for elements of our program and a lot of our work is a search of advising people what our program entails and may be sign posting them to things that might help.

For other people they just want to come in and have a sit down. They may be waiting for their chemotherapy to be ready or waiting for drugs from the pharmacy. So we're a different place for them to come and sit. You know, the hospital is brilliant, but here at Maggie's we can offer some where that's more comfortable, and the opportunity to get some help, but also the opportunity to talk to others in a similar situation. So each day is very different and that's kind of what I like about working here, because we never know who's going to come through the door.


That kind of leads me to the next question, or probably, I think my final question, in terms of what makes Maggie’s so special, so different to other places out there that offer cancer support?


I think the obvious thing is the building and it really does help us do our job. People who have never been to Maggie’s before tend to do three things.

First of all, they'll kind of look up and you can see that the kind of awe on their face as if to say, gosh this is fantastic.

The second thing you see is their shoulders go down because the building really does relax people and make people feel very welcomed.

The third thing they do is sometimes they will burst into tears, because they've never been anywhere like this before. And actually it's so welcoming. They feel very…overwhelmed is the wrong word, but their response can be,Is this all for me?” “Is this building for me? And we say, yes, it is for you.

If people come in and are distressed, we wouldn't automatically bring them into one of our little rooms, because we know that the building can work its magic and actually it's okay for people to be emotional.

It's all right for people to be angry or to be upset. That's what we're here for and I think that's also one of our unique selling points is it's so open. People can just drop in at any time. They don't need an appointment. They can come in Monday to Friday, nine to five and receive a warm welcome, but also to get support at a time that they need it.

There's no appointment system, there's no reception area. So again, the model of care that we offer is just very flexible, and is there for when people need it, not at the convenience of the professionals.