Breast cancer survivor Linda Hutchinson wants you to sign up for Cancer Focus NI

16 August 2019

Breast cancer survivor Linda Hutchinson wants you to sign up for Cancer Focus NI

Linda Hutchinson and creative writing facilitator Sharon Dempsey (right)

Breast cancer survivor Linda Hutchinson is an ardent believer in the many services provided for cancer patients by Cancer Focus NI, which has been supporting local people across Northern Ireland for the last 50 years.

The Belfast woman is encouraging people to sign up for the half marathon and raise funds that will help Cancer Focus NI continue its good work.

Many of the services provided by the charity have a creative element and Linda, who was diagnosed with breast cancer almost six years ago, took great comfort from the writing therapies on offer.

Telling her story Linda said: “I found something in my breast and felt it was something that should be looked at. I went to my doctor who was quite concerned and she referred me immediately to the Ulster Hospital. It all happened quite quickly. On Monday I was at my GP and on Thursday I was at hospital getting tests, mammogram, ultrasound and a biopsy.

“They told me I had a tumour and something in the lymph nodes and that I would need surgery fairly quickly, followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy.”

During her treatment Linda turned to Cancer Focus NI for support, taking part in creative writing sessions. “Creative therapies are really where it’s at – I think they should be available on prescription,” she laughed. “It’s important for people to become themselves again after cancer treatment. I felt a bit lost. Many people feel they are on their own and set adrift, particularly once the routine of hospital appointments stops.

“Writing helped me to get to know myself again and find out who I was. Creative therapies give people the opportunity to delve into themselves and express what they are feeling. Even if you don’t know you are expressing what you feel, you are - it just comes out.

“I find writing really useful. It’s surprising sometimes the things you uncover. With the creative writing groups at Cancer Focus you can explore those feelings in a safe environment. And it’s lovely to share the experience with people who have had a similar journey.”

Cancer Focus NI creative writing facilitator Sharon Dempsey said: “Research has shown that writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events can help both your physical and psychological health.

“Our group workshops are for everyone – you don’t need to have any writing experience and we don’t worry about formalities like spelling and punctuation. It’s all about helping you express your emotions and feelings and enabling you to feel heard.

“We choose themes that allow you to share your experiences and your writing with other like-minded people who understand what you’re experiencing, and gives you a chance to develop your creative writing, talk about books and gain new skills in a friendly relaxed environment.”

Cancer Focus NI’s other services include counselling, family support, a driving service and bra-fitting for women who’ve had mastectomies. Staff also visit workplaces, schools and community venues to help people lower their risk of cancer in the future and the charity funds research and advocates for better health policy.


Will you run for Cancer Focus NI at the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon on Sunday the 22nd September? Sign up at and tick the box to fundraise for Cancer Focus NI.