The Oesophageal Patients Association (OPA)
A national cancer charity supporting patients with oesophageal and gastric cancers.
The Oesophageal Patients Association is an independent registered charity formed in 1985 when a few former oesophageal cancer patients met and found tremendous reassurance in sharing experiences. Since then, we have helped thousands of patients and carers. The members and subscribers of the Association are all patients who have experienced oesophageal or gastric difficulties, not forgetting the hard work of their carers of course and the support of their friends and families. We have prepared medically approved booklets and fact sheets on the problems, which we can talk about at first hand, understanding the fears that can be generated, the pains that can be suffered and the effects on the digestive system that can be experienced.
Informal meetings for patients and carers (family or friends) are regularly held at regional centres around the UK. Problems are aired and suggestions for overcoming them are exchanged. The essential aim is to enable new patients and carers to meet and talk to former patients and carers who need advice and help.
2016 has been another successful year for the OPA
We have continued to expand our own support groups whilst developing close links to other local groups - affiliates, to widen the coverage of support available to patients. We work closely with Macmillan and Maggie's Centres to provide comprehensive support.
We are pleased with the developments in Scotland and Wales. We now have 54 groups in total, 11 OPA, 8 Scotland and 36 Affiliates.
Our documentation, pamphlets and restaurant cards are available free to all who request them. The OPA distributed over 10,000 booklets "A guide to Life After Surgery", "Swallowing & Nutrition" and "All about the OPA" in 2016. We are currently producing a new booklet - a guide to patients through the journey from diagnosis to completion of treatment and follow up. This will be available in 2017 as will a carer focussed booklet that is currently being produced. In addition a new recipe book is also being created..........watch this space!
As we continue to spearhead our campaign for raising awareness - our dedicated Trustee Phil Coverdale and Team will produce a new pamphlet, posters and banners to promote our ever successful campaign - for which 10 awareness days were held in 2016.
Website users continue to increase with visitors to the OPA website of over 13,000 and Social Media over 1,000 followers. We now have a over 6429 patients and carers registered. Head office deals with 1000+ calls and emails per month with the back up to the staff from experienced and trained past patients and the clinical Trustees. We never give clinical advice or comment on treatment. We encourage all patients who approach us to explain their anxieties to the team caring for them and if necessary to request a second opinion. The OPA sent out over 20,000 communications to patients, subscribers and Health Care Professionals.