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A new chapter at the library for cancer survivor Aislinn

Teacher Aislinn Gallanagh’s life turned upside down when, in 2009, at the age of 31, she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Two years later, once the flurry of treatment had subsided and her condition was under control, Aislinn found herself in need of other kinds of help. She said: “Initially I felt

bombarded by the appointments and the medical attention was very overwhelming. However, I was confident in the NHS’s ability to treat me medically and I had lots of friends and family to rally round and keep me company. “It was the aftermath, when my radiotherapy was finished that I was left emotionally shocked and this is where the legacy of my cancer is very evident.

“My life no longer belonged to me but was the property of the cancer that I was diagnosed with and gradually, somewhere along the line, I lost my identity.” So Aislinn visited her local library where the Macmillan cancer charity offers information and support services.

There she was asked if she’d like to go to a chi gung class for cancer patients. Chi gung is a Chinese system of exercise and meditation for health.

Aislinn, who has a three-year- old son Odhran, believes that beginning the classes helped put her life back on track.

She said: “Right from the start, things started to change for me. It was the first time that I was within a forum where everyone had been affected by cancer, so I was no longer defined by the illness. “It didn’t need to be discussed, I wasn’t scrutinised or analysed and slowly I began to feel like I may at some stage in the future reconnect with who I used to be.

“I began to feel excitement and enjoyment again and was actually doing something for myself rather than doing something to keep me busy and my mind away from what had happened.” Aislinn is just one of many people to benefit from Glasgow Libraries’ link up with Macmillan Cancer Information & Support Services.

The partnership will eventually operate in 33 libraries and 2 leisure centres across the city, providing cancer information, emotional support and access to benefits advice for anyone affected by cancer, including families and carers. These include Hillhead Library and Scotstoun Sports Centre.

46 | West End Life – August/September 2013

Access to chi gung classes are just part of what’s on offer. Those in need can find:

■ A confidential support service ■ A listening ear and time to talk ■ Access to benefits and financial advice by a specialist advisor

■ Access to complementary therapies

■ Access to counselling ■ A relaxing place to meet others affected by cancer

■ Links to local support services ■ Guided internet access ■ An email enquiry service ■ Access to and information on physical activity programmes.

Scotstoun is open every Thursday 11am – 3pm, and:

Hillhead is open every Saturday, 10am – 2pm and Wednesday, 11am – 3pm.

For more information visit your local library or go online to: http:// macmillan-at-glasgow-libraries. Alternatively visit


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