The difference research makes
In some respects, I suppose I have been lucky – if losing a tit can ever be described as lucky – in that my cancer responded to treatment. Seven years on from my diagnosis I’m doing well, but I have met and lost fabulous ‘cancer friends’ along the way.
But I have also met people who are living well with a terminal diagnosis. I have seen them navigate their way through drug trials and new treatments that have not just extended their lives, but meant that they can live full and active lives – whether that means climbing in the Cairngorms or pushing a pram through Primrose Hill.
I learnt from both my own lived experience and theirs, that science and research really matter.
Going inside the Crick
Some of the hospital letters I’d received during my treatment were as impenetrable to me as the periodic table, so I was intrigued but a little nervous to step into the Francis Crick Institute and join the patient advisory panel alongside the team developing their Outwitting Cancer exhibition.
I’d seen and been impressed by the building, but I had no idea what happened inside. Who worked there? Did they all wear white coats? Did they speak in jargon? Would they look up from their microscopes?
And do you know what - the people in there may be seriously impressive when it comes to scientific research and understanding different cancers, but they were also as normal as you and I. And they wanted to listen.
We talked about the language around cancer. We talked about the emotions you feel as a patient. We talked about how powerless you can feel when supporting a loved one. We talked about what cancer is and what it does to our bodies. We talked about misleading press articles and headlines. We did an awful lot of talking. And listening.
Because ultimately cancer is just part of us all. It’s about cells doing what cells do. And sometimes they go wrong.