CANCER Warriors extends far beyond being a Stalybridge based charity.
As the volunteer-run organisation recently celebrated the first anniversary of the opening of a support and information centre on Melbourne Street, founder Derrick Evans revealed how its work extends much further afield.
Derrick, 43, who has beaten cancer three times, said: “Through social media we have provided support for cancer sufferers in South Africa, America and Europe as the word spreads through social media.
“When we launched, my mobile number was the contact for Cancer Warriors and one morning it rang at 3.30am.
“I answered dazed and it was a call from a lady in Dakota in America who had read about me and she had the same type of cancer as myself.
“She wanted help and one-and-a-half hours later she thanked me for listening to her. I was gratified I was able to help.
“We have never turned anybody away, even when they have called in the middle of the night.”
Derrick, 43, who lives in Mossley, describes it as having been a really good year in which Cancer Warriors has grown fast as it supports cancer sufferers and their dependents.
He said: “We have proven the service is desperately needed after medial people questioned whether that was the case.
“We provided evidence to support our case and now medical services are backing us. We are working with a lot of doctors’ surgeries.”
Derrick, formerly a professional photographer, is one of a team of 19 volunteers who are all cancer survivors.
“The experiences we have been through are hard to duplicate and we are able to offer peer support,” he continued.
Three, including Derrick’s 17-year-old son Ed, are youth volunteers.
Derrick explained: “Ed was aged seven or eight when I was first diagnosed and given eight weeks to live.
“It is dramatic for a young child and Ed uses his experience to speak to other youngsters in the same situation.
“Cancer remains a massive taboo but Ed can help children understand more.”
Apart from the work at its Stalybridge base, Cancer Warriors has monthly drop-in centres at Stamford Park and the Reclamation Rooms, Uppermill, each attended by around 20 people.
Derrick says the success of Cancer Warriors is help him with his ongoing battles against cancer.
He was first diagnosed in 2007 and had relapses in 2010 and 2012 – he was given six months, four months and eight weeks to live respectively.
Derrick launched Derk’s Army in 2010 to raise money for The Christie and Macmillan Nurses.
That evolved into Cancer Warriors that became an official charity in March 2016 and last year marked another significant landmark with the opening of the base in Stalybridge.
Derrick paid tribute to his team saying everybody, including himself, are unpaid volunteers.
He said: “We have volunteers of all ages, some in their late 70s and they don’t get the recognition they deserve for devoting so much time to make it work.
“A lot of coverage is about me but without the dedication and commitment of volunteers we would not survive.
“They don’t do it for personal gain but they have made the charity what it is today. We would be sunk without them.”
Derrick is excited about the next 12 months when he forecasts even more growth and educating people about cancer. He readily admitted not having a lump checked for two years.
He said: “I would like to have prostate testing days for men and educate women about the importance of smear tests.
“It is about educating people and putting on roadshows, especially in schools, is important.
“We have already been in to West Hill High School and Copley Academy in Stalybridge and plans to extend that further.”