The Macmillan Support and Information Service is made up of several smaller teams. In this section we outline the different team members you may meet.
Support and information specialist team
Bryony works in the Living Room on the ground floor of the cancer centre. Her role, as a Support and Information Specialist, includes providing patients and their carers with both written and practical information, as well as emotional support. She also helps facilitate groups that take place in the centre and has a particular interest in physical activity.
Bryony trained as a nurse and worked in general surgery and acute medicine before joining the trust in 1999. When she joined the Trust Bryony worked as a staff nurse on the Teenage Cancer Unit, where she went on the become a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Sarcoma and Haematology until 2012.
"I really enjoy having the time to listen and talk to patients and carers about their information and support needs. I think the service we provide alongside the clinical teams can offer a better experience for our cancer patients and their families and friends."
Deborah trained as a nurse in 2008 and went straight into oncology. She has worked on a cancer ward and chemotherapy unit and then progressed as a lung cancer clinical nurse specialist. She joined the trust in July 2018 and works in the living room as an information and support specialist.
Emma joined the support and information team in January 2020. Previous to becoming a support and information specialist, she worked as a therapy radiographer for seven years in several different hospitals and one vet practice. She enjoys communicating with patients, families and carers and providing emotional and practical support.
Max joined the Macmillan Support and Information team in 2016. She qualified as a nurse at UCLH in 1996. She worked initially in Haematology for 15 years and more recently on the Chemotherapy day-care suite. Her role as a Support and Information Specialist involves providing emotional, practical and informational support for patients, their families and friends living with cancer.
I qualified as a nurse in 2014 and worked at Milton Keynes University Hospital (MKUH) for six years. My first three years at MKUH were spent working in Accident and Emergency, Medical Assessment and an Acute Stroke ward. I then became a cancer research nurse with a focus on blood cancer clinical research studies. I was involved in every aspect of the clinical trial process and really enjoyed helping and supporting patients that were taking part in clinical research. I joined University College Hospital as a Macmillan support and information specialist in 2020. My role involves providing emotional, practical and informational support for patients, their families and friends living with cancer.
Vikky is the team leader of the support and information specialist team. She has been a cancer nurse for over 27 years. The majority of this was working with the Teenagers and Young Adults Service at UCLH where she was nurse consultant. Vikky brings her vast amount of experience in supporting patients and families who attend the Support and Information Service. As the Support and Information CNS, Vikky has worked with the team to develop the Wellbeing Programme and the drop-in service for anybody affected by cancer.
“I believe with the right support and information at the right time, the majority of people can manage the impact that cancer has on their lives, and those around them. We strive to provide a safe place where people can talk and be listened to”.
Support and information assistant team
Liz is the assistant general manager for the Macmillan Support and Information Service (MSIS). She has worked in medical administration and management for the Middlesex Hospital and UCLH. She has worked in radiotherapy, oncology, haematology, head and neck surgery and cancer management. She joined MSIS when it opened in 2012, having worked with the team setting up the department and prior to that as a project manager for the Cancer Centre.
She has responsibility for the day to day operation of the Macmillan Support and Information service and is the line manager for the Assistant Team, Welfare and Benefits and Complementary Therapy.
Wig and scarf tying advice
Nicola has been the wig specialist in the Macmillan Support and Information Service since we opened in 2012. Her background is in hairdressing and beauty. She shares this experience in her current role. Previous to taking on the wig speciality, she worked in the trust for 12 years as a clinic coordinator cancer service and haematology. She also supports our Look Good Feel Better workshops and our pillar support group.
“I love my job because I help bring people’s confidence back and feel better about themselves.”
Welfare and benefits advice
Esther worked for over 10 years as a Welfare Benefits Advisor in both the Citizens Advice Bureau and Disability Charities before joining the team here.
Esther has also worked in the Cancer Department of the Royal Free Hospital. This gave her an insight into the wonderful work that all the staff did in order to make patients’ journey as comfortable as possible. That experience was one of the most rewarding and satisfying times she has experienced at work.
Esther has a creative streak. She studied at the London College of Fashion, qualifying as a designer, in the late 80s. On leaving college, she lived in Florence for two years working as a designer. She continues to create items and sell these at pop up markets and stalls throughout the year.
I joined Macmillan Cancer Services in September 2018 and I feel very excited to be part of such a dedicated and enthusiastic team. My early career was actually in the academic life - I used to teach public finance at a university in my home town, Belgrade in Serbia. However, when I moved to London I did my law degree and during this course I became particularly interested in medical law.
Since then I have worked for a number of years in Camden Citizens Advice most recently as an employee benefits adviser. Through this I became passionate about helping those affected by illness-related poverty. Research shows that disability is strongly linked to poverty – 30% of people in families with disabled members live in poverty, compared to 19% of those who do not.
On a more personal level, I love theatre and I try to get to a play whenever possible. I also love to read and I'm very much into some of the well-known Irish authors such as Colm Toibin and John McGahern (perhaps under the influence of my Irish husband and in-laws).
Michelle has worked within the welfare rights field for approximately 15 years. She has gained experience within the voluntary sector, local authorities and the health service. She finds the role extremely rewarding. She greatly enjoys the work and interacting with the patients and other services.
Ceris leads the complementary therapy team, having joined the Macmillan Support and Information Service in 2018. She has been leading and delivering complementary therapy services in the NHS and charitable sector since 1996. She has worked in a range of clinical settings, including adult learning disability services, adult and adolescent mental health and palliative care. Ceris has experience of helping people with a wide range of physical and mental health conditions including cancer, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, eating disorders and addictions. Ceris is also a qualified teacher and lectured in complementary therapies for over twelve years. In Ceris’ previous healthcare roles she developed educational programmes of complementary therapies and relaxation. These programmes empowered patients and their carers and gave them tools to support their own well-being.
“I am excited and proud to be part of the well-established complementary therapy service here at UCLH. It is a real pleasure both to work directly with patients and to manage a fantastic team of therapists. I know how much complementary therapy is appreciated by our patients and it is also my role to continue to develop this service to best meet the needs of the patients that we serve.”
Paula graduated from University of Westminster with a degree in Health Sciences: Natural Therapeutics in 2015. She is fully qualified in therapeutic massage, aromatherapy and shiatsu. After graduating Paula gained experience in a hospital setting working with cancer patients. This opportunity provided her with great exposure to a wide variety of patients with different oncology and haematology conditions. Paula joined the complementary therapy team at UCLH in 2017. She works with out-patients and ward patients, including children, teenagers and adults. Paula is passionate about the positive effects complementary therapy has on the body and mind and truly enjoys her work every day.
“At the end of each day I feel such a sense of fulfilment knowing I have made a difference in helping patients to feel better.”
Victoria qualified in 2002 as a Reiki Professional Practitioner and was previously on the Reiki Profession Specific Board for the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). After working as a volunteer with cancer patients for many years, she started in the Complementary Therapy service at UCLH in 2007. In 2015 she gained a diploma in Relaxation Techniques at the Christie hospital in Manchester. Victoria wrote the policy for Relaxation Techniques here at UCLH and implemented the pathway for them to be practised in group and one-to-one sessions. In 2017 she qualified in Reflexology.
“I work with cancer and red cell patients here at UCLH. I deliver sessions to patients who feel they want to ‘let go’ and relax. I also teach techniques to those who want to use them to help them to manage stress and anxiety. I am passionate about our service. We offer the opportunity for space and peace in a potentially stressful environment. It is a great privilege to be present and involved with patients through their journey.”
Psychological and emotional care team
Dr Gulshan Vazir is a senior counselling psychologist registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council (HPCP). She began her education in Canada and continued her Masters of Science (MSc) in clinical neuroscience and doctorate in counselling psychology in the UK. She started her career at the Tavistock and Portman NHS and has worked in various mental health settings. Her current role involves offering support to people with blood cancer, when they are admitted to the ward and as outpatient appointments, as well as their families. Gulshan also offers clinical supervision, group work and consultation and training to staff.
Dr Helen DeMarco is Team Lead of the Haematology Psychology and Counselling Service at UCLH and has been a Clinical & Health Psychologist for over 22 years. She has worked in both the NHS and education in the fields of mental health, student services, couple and family therapy, pain management and haematology.
Helen is trained in a variety of therapeutic approaches, including CBT, motivational interviewing, solution-focused, psychodynamic and mindfulness approaches. She has advanced training in systemic couple and family therapy and extensive experience of group work. She is interested in the role of self-management, patient engagement and family support in managing illness and has a special interest in sickle cell and thalassaemia.
Helen has been working in her current role within UCLH for over ten years and offers psychological support to patients, families and carers living with various haematological conditions.
Maria is a member of the Haematology Psychology and Counselling Service at UCLH. She has been a senior Counsellor/Psychotherapist for the past 19 years, working in the field of haematology for the last nine years at The Royal Free Hospital and here at UCLH. Her current role involves offering therapeutic psychological support to haematology patients and their families. Maria’s previous specialist psychological work includes addiction, emigration issues, trauma and women issues.
She is interested in the application of mindfulness to address the psychological issues haematology patients experience, in particular pre and post bone marrow transplant(BMT) patients.
Dr Matt Brown is the lead clinical psychologist for the UCH general oncology psychological care team (GOPT). He is chartered by the British Psychological Society (BPS) and registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC).
Matt has worked in a variety of settings, having started his career in the Prison Service, before moving across to the NHS in 2005 where he worked in both mental health and physical health settings. In recent years he has specialised in psycho-oncology and started working in GOPT in June 2016.
Matt enjoys being a part of a dynamic, professional and friendly team working within the Macmillan Support and Information Service and, having completed his doctoral training just found the corner at UCL in 2009, it has felt a bit like coming home.
Dr Tony Kainth is a Counselling Psychologist in the General Oncology Psychological Care Team at UCLH. He is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and completed his doctoral training at City, University of London, where he later returned as a Visiting Lecturer and Research Supervisor.
Tony has worked in various physical and mental health services both in the NHS and private sector. He has a special interest in the interactions between physical health conditions and psychological health and, in particular, changes to identity following illness.
In his current role at UCLH, Tony offers psychological support to patients, families, and carers living with cancer. He is also the Staff Wellbeing Champion for the Macmillan Support and Information Service.
Cancer information team
Catrina is a Cancer Information Specialist. She started work in the Macmillan Support and Information Service shortly after it opened, in 2012. She worked as a Support and Information specialist for five years before becoming a Cancer Information Specialist. Her job involves ensuring that information is available for all cancer patient at UCLH.
Catrina also works part-time as an acupuncturist at the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine. She is currently studying for a masters in pain management.
Prior to starting work in the Macmillan Support and Information Service, Catrina worked as a Therapy Radiographer for fourteen years. She has worked in many radiotherapy departments in the UK as well as in Australia and Cyprus.
Aneta had worked in the field of health information since 2006, having started her health-focused career in the private sector. Her adventure in the NHS began in 2009 at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust where she was responsible for overseeing information production and setting up the patient information network consisting of divisional information leads.
She then moved on to Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust where she headed a small patient information team and supported colleagues across the Trust to develop information for their patients. Making a difference is what drives her and having won two prestigious British Medical Association (BMA) awards for innovation in patient information meant that she did.
She joined the Macmillan Support and Information Service’s cancer information team at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in 2015. The role has given her a much desired opportunity to focus on a very emotive area. She works closely with clinical teams helping to ensure the information is easy to understand and accessible to all at any point of their care.
Head of service
Dr Lallita Carballo took up her post as the clinical lead for Supportive Cancer Care and head of the Macmillan Support and Information Service in March 2012.
Having completed her nurse training at the Middlesex Hospital in 1986 she has worked in a in a variety of cancer nursing positions ranging from clinical practice, research and management.
Lallita has a particular interest in the impact of cancer care on staff and involved a number of initiatives aimed at improving staff support including being a Schwartz Rounds facilitator. Her PhD work focussed on the effectiveness of multi-disciplinary cancer teams.
Lallita’s vision and ambition is to ensure that access to personalised supportive cancer care is an integral part of every patient’s experience at UCLH.