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A woman speaking who's voice is shining a spotlight on another woman speaking at a podium

Speaking Up About My Cancer

I’m not going to lie. I really enjoy talking about myself. I think it’s partly middle child syndrome and partly being human and inherently selfish and wanting to self-promote. And I am 100% A-Okay about this.

One thing that has happened since my diagnosis is that I have started to do a lot of public speaking about me, myself, and cancer. This really began to happen when I was 23, moved to London, and got involved with a charity called the Teenage Cancer Trust. For a couple of years, I spoke frequently on their behalf. It tended to be when they got a new corporate partnership, or a company renewed theirs. I went in to talk about what it was like not having access to age-appropriate care as that is where the charity excels. Giving the very specific care that 16-24-year-olds need was something that I didn’t get at my diagnosis from my consultant when I was 22. 

I found my voice to raise awareness

Through them, I found my voice and realized that I am confident talking in front of people about myself and my experiences... including the good and the bad. I also learned that it’s ok to cry when talking about it, as well. It’s good to show that it is ok to cry and that things can be emotional – good and bad. This human side of talking resonates with people and really engages them. It shows you are real.

I have spoken to groups as small as 3 or 4 and up to groups as large as 3,000 all about me, myself, and cancer. In all honesty, I don’t mind how many I talk to because I just enjoy raising awareness of what it’s like to live with CML and everything that I have been through. I also speak to make cancer approachable and to get conversations going. It doesn’t have to be a whispered topic that isn’t acknowledged. 

The good, the bad, and the ugly

I also talk to people about the excellent care I have had alongside the bad. I do this especially when talking to politicians, charities and health care professionals. If the good isn’t highlighted, which it so often isn’t, how can anyone know what is good? I mention the bad, not to whine, but to flag things that shouldn’t happen to patients. I also flag the bad so those who are in a position of power or who care know what not to do or what to avoid.

I recently spoke to a group of nurses at a large London hospital who were taking a course about cancer and how to look after patients with it. I think it’s really great that there are these courses available for nurses and other health care professionals. I also love the fact that I get asked to go in to talk to them to tell them how it really is. I also let them ask me anything they want, so they can get an honest patient perspective. It also means that they can ask me in a safe setting with complete permission from me to be asked anything, rather than being in front of a patient on a ward or in a clinic and asking them and potentially getting the timing wrong.

Honored to represent fellow patients

I also love going in to talk to nurses about my experience because they really care. They are in their job as a nurse because they really want to make a difference to the patients. I feel honored to go in and talk to them on behalf of all cancer patients who don’t have a voice as I do. That can’t bear the thought of standing up in front of strangers and talking about their diagnosis and treatment. So, I go. Because I love it, I’m not going to lie. But also because I feel that I have a bit of a responsibility to those who can’t do it. And for those who are no longer here.

Being able to do this is definitely a plus side of my diagnosis and treatment.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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