Oldham-based storytelling initiative targets local radiotherapy patients

Oldham residents, who have been treated with radiotherapy for their cancer, are being invited to get involved with a new arts-based project launching in the borough this New Year.

‘Radiotherapy & Me’ will be a two month-long opportunity for people, who have experienced radiotherapy or their carers, to tell their personal stories facilitated by experienced creative practitioners.

The initiative, which kicks off with a drop-in session on Saturday 19 January, 11.00 -13.00 at Oldham Library, aims to raise awareness of radiotherapy as a modern treatment for cancer.

The exercise is being run by The Public Programmes Team and radiotherapy researchers at the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).

Professor Ananya Choudhury, a Christie Consultant, runs clinics at The Royal Oldham Hospital, and is a leading researcher in the Manchester BRC Advanced Radiotherapy Theme.

She said “Radiotherapy is a vital procedure – around 50% of cancer patients who are cured received radiotherapy as part of their treatmentWe want to raise awareness of the role and features of radiotherapy, as well as the research we are doing to progress the treatment’s benefits and minimise side effects.

“We believe a really powerful way to engage people is through the first-hand experiences of those who have received radiotherapy.  I hope potential contributors see this as a way to share their personal insights, meet others and stimulate topical conversation.”

A series of facilitated, storytelling workshops, and other opportunities, will enable public participants and researchers to create original outputs which will be exhibited across Oldham, and further afield, from the end of March.

Freelance theatre practitioner, Nathaniel Hall and Lara Veitch, a creative activist, have recently been appointed, through Contact, Manchester’s young people-led arts and theatre organisation, to lead the workshops.

Thirty three year old, Nathaniel has worked on numerous projects supporting non-artists to share powerful narratives through creative techniques such as writing, visual, audio and video.

“People don’t need to have done anything like this before. Lara and I will help people to tell their personal stories in their own way.  The sessions will be friendly, informal and, hopefully, very enjoyable.  Participants just need to be prepared to share their radiotherapy stories.”

Lara, aged 29, has experienced radiotherapy herself and specialises in patient involvement in cancer research.

“Patients offer a unique and vital perspective that often comes at things from a totally different angle from the professionals.  Sharing my own experience with others has been a very important part of my healing process and made me realise how valuable our voices are to the development of research.”

The outreach activities will take place in different libraries throughout Oldham during February and March 2019.

For more information about the project see the Radiotherapy & Me website, or call or email Emily Robinson, The Public Programmes Team, on 0161 276 6614 / 0781 6446132  emily.robinson@mft.nhs.uk.

The radiotherapy storytelling drop-in session will take place at Oldham Library, Greaves Street, and will be a chance to meet Emily Robinson, Nathaniel Hall, Lara Veitch and some of the radiotherapy researchers.