From a very early age I knew I would be a nurse and I was lucky to enjoy many happy years doing a job that brought me great personal satisfaction whilst helping patients and their families through some difficult and also distressing times. My later years as a cancer services manager were less expected but equally rewarding as I was able to contribute to ensuring we provided safe services and improved patient care and experiences.
Unfortunately, I developed cancer myself a few years ago. Over a period of just over a year, I needed two major surgical procedures and a course of chemotherapy. This was a difficult time for myself and my family but I was fortunate to have the support of family and friends, as well as excellent support and care from many healthcare professionals. I understood the workings of hospitals and whilst it was very different being on the ‘other side’ it was an environment I felt relatively at home.
Thankfully my treatment was successful and I returned to full time employment for a couple of years but despite feeling fit and well, I decided to take early retirement with the intention of doing voluntary work which would utilise my skills gained during a long career. I wanted to use my cancer experience to help other people going through a cancer diagnosis and treatment. This combination led me to become involved with Gateshead Cancer Advocacy.
Being diagnosed with cancer, living with cancer and surviving cancer can be confusing, frightening and sometimes overwhelming but I am enjoying being part of this project, and will soon be supporting people during their cancer journey .
Cancer Support Advocate, Gateshead Cancer Advocacy