The Macmillan Support and Information Service is made up of several small teams. In this section we have information about the team members you may meet.
Support and information specialist team
Bryony's role, as a support and information specialist, includes providing patients and their carers with both written and practical information, and emotional support. She also helps to 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 University College London Hospitals (UCLH) in 1999. When she joined UCLH, Bryony worked first as a staff nurse on the Teenage Cancer Unit, and then as 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 working in cancer services. She has worked as a nurse on a cancer ward and chemotherapy unit and then progressed to a lung cancer clinical nurse specialist. She joined University College London Hospitals in July 2018 and works as an information and support specialist.
Max joined the Macmillan support and information team in 2016. She qualified as a nurse at University College London Hospitals (UCLH) in 1996. She worked initially in haematology for 15 years and more recently on the chemotherapy daycare unit. Her role as a support and information specialist involves providing emotional, practical and informational support to patients, their families and friends living with cancer or a blood condition.
Mel qualified as a nurse in 2014 and worked at Milton Keynes University Hospital (MKUH) for six years. Her first three years at MKUH were spent working in accident and emergency, medical assessment and an acute stroke ward. She then became a cancer research nurse with a focus on blood cancer clinical research studies. She was involved in every aspect of the clinical trial process and really enjoyed helping and supporting patients that were taking part in clinical research. She joined University College London Hospitals as a Macmillan support and information specialist in 2020. Her role involves providing emotional and practical support, and information to anyone affected by cancer or a blood condition, including friends, family and carers.
Vikky is the team leader of the support and information specialist team. She has been a cancer nurse for over 30 years. The majority of her work was in the Teenagers and Young Adults Service at University College London Hospitals 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 clinical nurse specialist, Vikky has worked with the team to develop the wellbeing programme and the drop-in service for anybody affected by cancer or a blood condition.
“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 MSIS and is the line manager for the administration assistant team, welfare and benefits team and complementary therapy team.
Yanique joined the Macmillan support and information team in September 2019. Before, she worked at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in the pharmacy department. Yanique has a law and business management degree; it’s with this passion for law that she became the welfare and benefits administrator in the Support and Information Service.
As part of her role, Yanique assists patients to get financial advice when they are most vulnerable. She finds her role very rewarding and enjoys being a part of the administrative assistants' team. Yanique also speaks Italian and lived in northern Italy for most of her childhood.
Wig and scarf tying advisor
Nicola has been the wig and scarf tying advisor at the Macmillan Support and Information Service since it opened in 2012. Her background is in hairdressing and beauty. She shares this experience in her current role. Previous to taking on the wig advisor role, Nicola worked at University College London Hospitals for 12 years as a clinic coordinator in cancer services and haematology. She also supports our Look Good Feel Better workshops and is part of the administration assistant team.
“I love my job because I help bring people’s confidence back and feel better about themselves.”
Welfare and benefits team
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.
Jelena joined Macmillan Support and Information Service in September 2018 as a welfare and benefits advisor. Her early career was in academia - she used to teach public finance at a university in her home town, Belgrade in Serbia. However, when she moved to London she did her law degree and during the course she became particularly interested in medical law.
Since then she has worked for a number of years in Camden Citizens Advice most recently as an employee benefits adviser. Through this she 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, Jelena loves going to the theatre and tries to get to a play whenever possible. She also loves to read and is very much into some of the well-known Irish authors such as Colm Toibin and John McGahern (perhaps under the influence of her Irish husband and in-laws).
Michelle has worked within the welfare rights field for over 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.
Complementary therapy team
After a career change, Angelica qualified as a massage therapist and reflexologist in 2008 and has been involved in supporting people affected by cancer for the past seven years. As a complementary therapist, she has been involved with and supports a range of charities such as The Mulberry Centre, Cancer Research and Parkinson’s UK; by volunteering and supporting events where complementary therapies are offered.
Angelica’s interest in holistic wellbeing, pain management and commitment to professional development has driven her to study further and gain qualifications and experience in various fields of complementary therapy. In 2020 she completed a BTEC Level 6 Professional Diploma in advanced clinical and sports massage and has developed further skills in advanced soft tissue techniques, including trigger points and myofascial release to support people with chronic pain due to musculoskeletal conditions.
I feel very humbled, and privileged to work at UCLH and be able to support patients going through their cancer treatment and recovery, by offering them a moment of calm and relaxation in the middle of all the medical procedures and treatment they need to undergo.
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. Paula joined the complementary therapy team at UCLH in 2017. She works with both outpatients 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 previously worked 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 working 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
Giovanna Reitano is a psychotherapist in the haematology psychology and counselling Service at UCLH. She trained in psychology, and integrative and existential analytic psychotherapy.
Giovanna has worked in NHS primary and secondary care, and in education and performing arts. Giovanna has NHS experience working in psycho-oncology, pain management, health psychology, paediatric psychology, and occupational health. She has also provided psychological support to children, young people, and families in various settings.
Giovanna has an interest in the psycho-social factors associated with long-term conditions, and the impact that cancer-related grief has on a person and their family.
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, and to their families and carers. Gulshan also offers clinical supervision, group work, 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 25 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 blood conditions.
Dr Laura McDermott is a clinical psychologist in the General Oncology Psychological Care Team at UCLH. Laura completed her doctoral training at the University of Glasgow and is registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC).
Prior to joining the team at UCLH, Laura has practiced in a range of NHS settings, including mental health services in Camden and oncology services in Scotland and London. Laura has a particular interest in supporting patients with physical health conditions. She is trained in several evidence-based therapeutic approaches, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT). Laura’s role at UCLH involves offering psychological care to patients and families affected by cancer.
Maria is a member of the Haematology Psychology and Counselling Service at UCLH. She has been a senior counsellor/psychotherapist for over 20 years. She has worked in haematology services at The Royal Free Hospital and here at UCLH. Her current role involves offering therapeutic psychological support to patients with blood cancer 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 patients with blood cancer experience, in particular pre and post bone marrow transplant (BMT) patients.
Dr Matt Brown is the lead clinical psychologist for the UCLH 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. In 2005 he started work in the NHS and has worked in both mental health and physical health services. 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. Having completed his doctoral training just around the corner at UCL, in 2009, it has felt a bit like coming home.
Dr Ruth Anderson is a counselling psychologist in the haematology counselling and psychology service at UCLH. She is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and completed her doctoral training at the University of Roehampton.
Ruth has worked in different physical and mental health services in both the NHS and charity sector. She has a special interest in relational approaches to therapy. In her current role at UCLH, Ruth offers psychological support to people with red blood cell conditions such as sickle cell and thalassaemia, and to people with blood cancer. Ruth also provides staff clinical supervision.
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 the cancer information lead at UCLH. She started work in the Macmillan Support and Information Service shortly after it opened, in 2012. First, she worked as a support and information specialist before starting her current role. Her job involves improving the accessibility of information to anyone affected by cancer.
Catrina also works part-time as an acupuncturist at the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine. She has completed 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 variety of cancer nursing positions ranging from clinical practice, research to management.
Lallita has a particular interest in the impact of cancer care on staff and is involved with 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.