I did the most fantastic thing this week. Glaxo Smith Kline approached Cancer Research UK as they wanted a guest speaker at an in-company seminar to give a patients perspective on Cancer to their oncology scientists and CRUK asked me! The thought was slightly scary but I figured, when I am I ever going to be given a chance to speak at Glaxo Smith Kline again? And I keep saying how much I want to spread the word so I better get on with it.
On a personal level, I was so impressed that this is something GSK do. The whole point of the speech was to put into human terms for their scientists, what it is they are doing, why they keep researching and improving oncology medication and inspire in them the true difference they can make. Definitely something I would like to be involved in.
Although I have spoken publicly about my cancer story before (you can see a pervious post on that here) I have never spoken in front of people before, let alone 200 scientists but my contacts at Cancer Research and GSK could not have done more to make me feel at ease. To be honest I was just so excited.
I’m pleased to say that the talk went really well. I even managed to make them laugh a couple of times (with me/at me, who knows?!) Formatted like an interview, the interviewer me did a fantastic job of making sure everything was covered, getting to the bottom of the story and keeping me on track – even making me feel like it was just the two of us having a chat. I did suddenly became nervous at the end that no one was going to ask anything during the Q&A session but thankfully they had lots of interesting questions and were all SO kind. It felt extradonarily good to share my story and to know that it was possibly making a small difference in the future of oncology was a total buzz.
A number of delegates spoke to me at the end saying how moving it was to hear my story, not just because they are scientists but because cancer is something prevalent in their lives and families, meaning it had been a help on a personal level to understand a little better what their loved one may be going through. Again this just confirmed for me how we all need to just keep talking about cancer and that I am going to continue to do so.
The real irony is that the GSK employees were thankful to me for sharing my story with them, when actually I wanted to thank them. I don’t think anyone in the room will realise how much they did for me, my inner strength and confidence. I’m sure that nothing will make having cancer ‘worth it’ but to be able to turn such a negative experience into a positive through doing something I have always loved the thought of doing – public speaking and writing – and having the potential to make a difference through engaging with scientists and other projects raising money and awareness for Cancer Research UK, is as close to being ‘worth it’ as I think it can get for me.