When Nicola Met Glaxo Smith Kline

Cancer & Me, Journey Back to Health

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.

The Auditorium. I can't lie, I was very nervous as I walked in & saw the room

The Auditorium.
I can’t lie, I was very nervous as I walked in & saw the room

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.

When the room was full. That tiny dot at the very front on the left, is me!

When the room was full.
That tiny dot at the very front on the left, is me!

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.

The Anti-Bucket List

Cancer & Me, Journey Back to Health, The Anti-Bucket List

I think everyone is now familiar with the term Bucket List as a list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket.  When I was having treatment for advanced Colorectal Cancer  I decided that when I got better I would flip the idea and came up with The Anti-Bucket List… these were things I was going to do, not because I was going to die, but because I was going to live.  Got the idea?

I see this as different to New Years Resolutions because I consider those the be goals of the year, whereas this list is more things I want to do and experience.

Last year I only included a few things as I was still having treatment / recovering but there were;

  1. Travel to somewhere I haven’t been before / Travel for the first time with my P1010291colostomy bag – I went to Morocco.  Truly amazing experience.  I was so nervous to travel for the first time with a colostomy bag but in reality it was fine.  Just made sure I had plenty of everything (I took about 2 months worth for 3 nights) and in all different bags in case something happened, but nothing did.  No trouble flying.  Everything was cool.  Have now flown a few times, all fine.  And Morocco itself was out of this world.  It is firmly at the high end of my favourite places to go list (Mexico remains number 1).
  2. Go to University – Wasn’t easy and at times I wondered why I put it on the list but I did it.  I now go to the University of Hertfordshire reading English Literature, Philosophy & Writing and I absolutely LOVE it.  It is one of my favourite things to do on earth at the moment.
  3. Read another 3 books of my list – My list is the BBC Top 100 Reads voted by the public.  Its been really good actually, made me read loses of books I wouldn’t have otherwise, most of which I have really enjoyed.

So that was last year, but what about this year…  This is what I have so far…

  1. Go to a fancy Horse Race – by that I mean like Ascot, a traditional big race where the ladiesIMG_2621 get seriously dressed up.
  2. See a Ballet at the Royal Opera House –  I haven’t been for years.
  3. Visit Harry Potter world at Letchworth Studios – as close as I can get to the real thing.
  4. Take part in Cancer Research’s Colour Run – Have you seen how much fun this looks… has to be done.  If you want move information about it, visit www.thecolourrun.co.uk or if you want to know more about why Cancer Research means so much to me specifically you can click here!
  5. Go somewhere I haven’t been before – This doesn’t have to be abroad, there is still a lot in the UK I haven’t seen.  Quite like the idea of the outer-Heberdies… anyone have any suggestions?

So that is the Anti-Bucket list as it stands but I am looking for inspiration and things to add so please leave and comment & let me know what else I can do that will bring fun and excitement to this year I’m living.

But, most importantly, what is on your Anti-Bucket list?  I really would like to know leave a comment & tell me.

Whatever it is, hope you have fun doing it! x

Some other awesome lists to check out….

101 Things to Do When You Survive

Bucket List Publications