Have you heard that I had cancer? Of course you have, I talk about it…. a lot!!
Some people find this strange, a lot of people consider serious illness to be something that should be private and dealt with behind closed doors but that has never been how I felt. I have complete respect for anyone who can handle it this way, I couldn’t keep something like this to myself, I know I would just blurt it out if I tried.
However I have taken it to another level by talking about with press and for charity campaigns. Some people find this REALLY strange and think that I am so brave, but I had never looked at it like that. I talk about it all the time, I can totally handle this, or so I thought?!
It all started because I contacted Cancer Research UK Patient Liaison department and told them my story. Given the details they were keen for me to speak out and it started with a fantastic campaign for Cancer Research UK, Stand Up 2 Cancer.
It felt so fantastic to tell the story, get it out of my system and feel like I could be putting my experience to some good. The photo shoot with my father and children was a lot of fun. Reading the details in black and white was strange though but I felt quite detached, like I was reading someone else’s story. I then went on to do further features with Cancer Research (all of which I will upload here as soon as I am able), which I also really enjoyed. Talking about it and feeling that I was doing something to help, turning it into a positive experience.
Next was an article for the Sunday Mirror, a Mother’s Day special. It was organised by Cancer Research UK but this time it would be a Sunday Mirror journalist conducting the interview. The focus was less about the life saving research, more about the emotional side and how it had effected our family.
This was very hard to read. No longer did I feel like I was reading about someone else, this was me. It was quite strange as the article is written in the first person, even though it is actually written by a reporter. For the first time I did feel I was brave putting this out there. It even made me wonder if I am strong enough to be putting my story out there, telling everyone all the details of this horrific experience that not just me, also my family and friends went through. I said to my dad ‘they’ve made it sound so dramatic’ and he said ‘that’s because IT WAS dramatic’. Oh yeah!
Especially all the talk about bums and vagina’s – I’m such a kid I still get embarrassed mentioning things like that, never mind seeing mine specifically talked about in a national newspaper!
(I have even deleted and rewritten the above sentence a few times – its staying – in MASSIVE letters!)
It has made me realise that it is quite easy to hide behind the facts and figures and that the reality and emotional devastation it can cause is much harder to speak about, and is a lot less frequently spoken about. I hated the fact that article finished with ‘I’m so proud of myself’ but actually, why? I should be proud of myself. I am pleased with what I’ve achieved. Why I we so quick to pretend we aren’t, incase we look egotistical I guess. At the end, this has actually made me realise I want to get my story out there even more.
- Mainly just to get the message out there. Bowel Cancer especially is considered a ‘older persons’ disease (65 years plus), but that’s rubbish. I was 31 when I was diagnosed and my specialists thought that I had already had cancer for 4 years – that’s 27!
- It is embarrassing, but that is why we need to talk about it more, try to get rid of that feeling so others then feel that they in turn can be more open about it.
- And if it comes across dramatic, that is because it was dramatic and all contributes to why more needs to be done especially when it comes to ‘young’ people and this awful disease.
I will be posting more blogs about the details of my experience so please let me know if you have any specific questions by leaving a comment, alternatively, leave a comment and let me know what your thoughts are?!
To donate to Cancer Research UK, please click here
For more information about Bowel Cancer including what to look out for, or to donate specifically, please click here