A SINGING group formed by people whose lives have been changed by cancer will record an original song - hoped to provide a ‘voice’ for others who may be struggling - and an album to raise vital funds.
The We Can Survive Singers were formed in late 2018 with the message that ‘cancer doesn’t define you’.
But, founder Cheryl Roberts said, ‘when you’re in a group like this, it unites you’.
“You become stronger, more empowered and confident,” she said. “If I hadn’t have had cancer, I would never have done this - but when cancer came into my life, I thought, I’m going to do the things I always wanted to do.”
Set up with a £5,000 grant from Macmillan Cancer Support - which will fund the recording sessions with another £5,000 - the group went from strength to strength, winning a Proud of Barnsley Award a year later.
Cheryl - who had worked with cancer patients at Barnsley Hospice and The Well therapy service - was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago, but has now received the all clear.
The group works as part of The Well, under Barnsley Hospital Charity Trust - recognition of its benefits to wellbeing.
Cheryl, 55, of Springfields, Redbrook, remembers seeing her own name in patient lists as a strange moment.
And it was as she moved through the healthcare system she realised the need for more informal support groups, where people could stay together and form relationships through shared experiences.
“When I was on my knees and drowning, it was people that got through it that gave me hope.
“I met people who were on chemotherapy at the same time as me, and some are in this choir now. The singing is the therapy - it’s about peer support. You don’t have to be able to sing.”
The group is producing two CDs, one with the original track and another with four of members’ favourite covers.
Money raised will go towards keeping the choir running and a donation to Macmillan, with a launch concert planned at St Paul’s Church, Gawber.
“This song is going to be a voice of people that have had cancer.
“Hopefully people that have been diagnosed with cancer will hear it, it will resonate with them and give them hope.
“It’s not just the singing - we go out for meals, we’ve been to the theatre, we’ve stayed overnight in places. Singing, laughing, even tears.
“We’ve lost four members of our choir.
“One lady, we sang outside her hospice room and she came and sang with us from her bed.
“She bequeathed us some money from her will - that’s how much it really means to these people.
“It’s so heartwarming. They’re a special group of people.”
Member Sarah Aston - who has chronic myeloid leukaemia and attends daily chemotherapy, having previously had breast cancer - had a big hand in writing the song’s lyrics, which convey each aspect of the group.
The 48-year-old of Sparrowhawk Lane, Wath, said: “The essence of the chorus is that support.
“We’re a fun crew - we have lots of social events.
“We wanted to get in that laughter and daft things that pull us together. We’ve become really close friends and we all have that positive outlook because of the journey we’ve been through.
“I’m here, I’m alive - it could have been a different story.
“We want to live life, have fun and make memories. That’s what we needed to capture in the song.
“We still have scans, hospital appointments, so we support each other through those.
“We’re all of the mindset that because we’ve been through that, life doesn’t stop.”
Ian Margerison,Yorkshire Macmillan engagement lead, said: “We are delighted to see the group thrive from its inception after receiving one of our support grants and are excited to see the production of the album.
“It’s more than just a singing group as it has brought so many people together and forged friendships for life.”