Since signing up as a Cancer Voice, I have given feedback to the King's Fund's 'Integrating Mental and Physical Healthcare' project in relation to my cancer experience. I feel that psychological support is just as important as the medical treatment, so I was very keen to give feedback and raise awareness.
I joined a taskforce, which works to better understand and tackle the specific inequalities experienced by people living with cancer who are also affected by mental health problems. I then joined a reference group as my experience of cancer and mental health issues makes me feel that I can make a useful contribution and it’s something I care about. Within the reference group, we decide on key areas raised within the taskforce work to focus on and have also had the opportunity to link in with mental health charities and healthcare professionals.
In 2013 I attended my first Cancer Voices conference. I didn't know what to expect and went with an open mind. I was so inspired by the speakers that I signed up to the Macmillan Skype Project and to do some work with Macmillan's Media team. I subsequently shared 'My Story in 100 words,' attended a Macmillan photo shoot and submitted my 'top tip' which was printed in a publication.
I have also reviewed books, Macmillan's cancer information publications and DVDs. I've benefited from reading some very interesting information and believe it's always good to learn new things. I've answered questionnaires for university research projects. I feel it's important to take part in these studies to assist the research and get across that cancer is life changing and the experience remains with you. I also met with a student to give feedback on a phone app she was developing for cancer patients and their medical teams.
Before I had cancer, I had never attended support groups or spoken in public, I would have run a mile! My treatment was successful, I feel fitter and healthier than before. I feel that cancer saved my life and anything I can do to make a difference for someone else feels worthwhile.