We are collecting advocacy stories as part of the national project and hope to hear from both volunteer advocates and advocacy partners about the difference our work has made to them. I visited one of our advocacy partners to chat about what would be involved in sharing his story and to preview the questions that I would be asking him at our next meeting. After the questions which asked for some detail on his own particular situation and how he had experienced the advocacy support came a question about the ‘wider impact’ that he considered his involvement with our project to have had.
I said it was not important if he felt at this time that there had not been any wider impact. He responded that he was very keen to contribute to the work that we are doing and he knew already what impact he would like to have. He would like people affected by cancer to have support already from the time of investigations and tests throughout the process of diagnosis.
Having been referred by his GP and seen a specialist he had gone alone to hospital to have some tests. The health professional had displayed the result on a screen, pointed out in a very matter of fact way a large tumour, and said he would be making a referral back to the specialist. The ensuing weeks of waiting for the next appointment were for that patient ‘a void’. He felt strongly that people should not have to face that void which, for him, was a time of great worry despite having family support. Sources of support should have been suggested ahead of time and the uncertainty which defined that period, which he finds it difficult to look back on, could have been alleviated by advocacy support.
As a result of this advocacy partner’s cancer journey his life has completely changed. When the story is told there will be more lessons to be learned but until then we will share his experience of the ‘void’ and seek ways to raise awareness of the benefits of advocacy support at the very start of the journey.
Kathleen Gillett, Dorset Cancer Advocacy