Talking about cancer - Vol 1 - Debbie

 "Talking about cancer" written over a picture of a microphone and twinkling lights in the background

Speaking about a cancer experience can help you and others, here on the Community the power of shared experience is all around us:

‘It really is reassuring to know others have trodden the path I am fearing to tread… It makes me feel I am not alone in this.’ - mamachimp

Thank you for sharing your personal story…I’m feeling much more supported and not alone. Thank you so much for taking the time to sharing your thoughts, I find them incredibly motivating.’  - Jatz

But what about sharing your experiences more publicly? Today we are starting a new miniseries about how some of our Community members found speaking to the press about their cancer experience. Debbie is our first guest blogger of the series and is sharing her experience of speaking to ITV Channel Island News about her Bowel cancer diagnosis today.

‘I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Bowel Cancer in my sigmoid colon in December 2018 at the age of 58. I had a high anterior resection in January 2019 with a temporary ileostomy, seven chemotherapy treatments from February – June, then I had the ileostomy reversed in August.

'I was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer in my sigmoid colon in December 2018...' 

 In January this year I received the fantastic news that all of my scans and blood tests showed no evidence of disease.

In March this year, with Bowel Cancer Awareness month on the horizon the colorectal team were creating a list of patients who might be willing to talk on to local media about their experience of cancer and asked me whether I’d like to be included. Co-incidentally, I was approached by a friend, James, who works for ITV Channel Islands News and asked whether I would do a piece for them.

'I was approached by my friend, James, who works for ITV Channel Island News'

The interview took place at my house in mid-March. It really helped that I knew the interviewer, but both he and the camera man put me at ease straight away. James had called beforehand to discuss the questions he might ask and what the objective of the interview was. As it was Bowel Cancer Awareness month, the focus would be on my diagnosis and treatment, but also on the importance of knowing the symptoms of Bowel Cancer and of going to GP as soon as possible, as early diagnosis is key to successful treatment.

'As it was Bowel Cancer Awareness month, the focus would be on my Diagnosis and treatment' 

We did the interview in my lounge, then we did some linking shots in the kitchen and garden. My husband also did a short interview from the viewpoint of my carer. Many people told me that I was very brave to do the interview, but as I am a confident person who expresses myself well due to drama training, I felt that I was able to do a good job, and that it was an important thing to do, as it would enable the viewers would be able to hear my story and see that it is possible to successfully treat cancer, thereby hopefully debunking some myths surrounding it. The emphasis on being able to recognise symptoms and reporting them to your GP was really important to me, as I know that doing so played a huge part in my treatment being successful.

'I felt I was able to do a good job and that it was an important thing to do' 

Unfortunately, the interview didn’t go out until late April due to Covid-19 related news taking precedence and was shortened so that another interview with professionals could be included with reference to patients not going to their GP throughout lockdown. However, the salient points came across well, and I have received great feedback, both from viewers but also from health professionals who are grateful when patients share their experiences.’

'I have received great feedback, both from viewers, but also from health professionals who are grateful when patients share their experiences'

Speaking about anything you may have been through, whether here on the Community or more publicly with the press, is always a very personal decision. For some people speaking about what they have been through can have a really positive effect and raise awareness of issues, which can help others but can also provide support for themselves as well. If you have spoken to the press about your experience and would like to be part of our miniseries ‘Talking about cancer’, please do get in touch with the Community team at Community@macmillan.org.uk.

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