What brought you to the world of cancer support?
After being treated for three breast cancer diagnosises within the last ten years from the age of 27, I feel that I have a good idea of the support that is available to patients at all the different stages of diagnosis, treatment and recovery. In my experience, over the last ten years, I have noticed a gap for real personal, one to one hand holding, especially for younger patients, where you can talk to someone in a comfortable environment, who has come out the other side but truly appreciates the emotions, feelings and living life through and after cancer. Things are changing all the time in this area and I wanted to be a part of that!
What do you do to help cancer patients and those that have been through treatment?
I offer a free personal hand to hold to other patients either just after a diagnosis, going through treatment, or dealing with life after treatment. I talk to patients in the most accessible way they prefer; text, phone, Skype or one to one meet ups. There is no pressure and it is completely down to the patient as to whether it is a one off or on going. It isn't coaching, it isn't counselling, its just talking and sometimes this can be the most healing form of therapy. Its another link in the chain of recovery and another cog in the wheel of someones support team.
What is the best day you have ever had at work since you started working in this field?
Every day is wonderful working around such inspiring people. If they are not necessarily happy days they still have so much to teach me. When one of the incredible ladies I have been hand holding over the last few months finished all of her treatment and told me she was ready to get going and live life again, I felt as if one of my little chicks was flying the nest! It was so exciting and liberating and I was so chuffed for her. It was inspiring to see someone I had grown quite close to, and seen so vulnerable, feel confident and full of energy again and when she said she had me to thank for so much of that, I was so touched. I learn so much from the people I talk to and I feel very blessed to work in such a meaningful environment where friendships mean so much and solidarity is key.
Recently, after publishing a blog on Samspaces, an amazing new business has contacted me and asked me to write regularly for them, in addition to my work with Beauty Despite Cancer. That was a pretty wonderful day too!
Tell us more about the work that you do
After my second diagnosis I started blogging about my reflections of having had breast cancer in my 20’s and it was really well received. Back in April, I took it a step further and bravely launched my own website Samspaces. I wanted to start another blog called Bouncing Back, a more practical, pro active blog looking at the many different things we can do to help our well being during and after cancer treatment. Writing can be so therapeutic and other than being a resource to help the over whelming amount of information that can be given to patients at point of diagnosis, this is also a platform for me to share what I have found helpful as well as an opportunity for others to tell me what they have found helpful, taking the hard work out of the leg work, so to speak!
What did you do before working with cancer patients?
Before being diagnosed the first time, back in 2005, I was a PA in the film industry. It was a job I loved but the hours were very long and it could be quite stressful. I went part time after my initial recovery and this worked brilliantly and then I had my daughter who has given me the incredible long term job of being a Mum, which is pretty massive in itself!
Why did you decide to tell others about Beauty Despite Cancer and Defiant Beauty?
BDC has been the gateway to my writing career! After meeting someone at a Shine meeting who told me about Jennifer and put us in touch, the wheels started moving at lightening speed and Jennifer asked me to blog for the website. I was thrilled and it gave me the confidence to start blogging for myself. As time went on and my relationship with the team at BDC grew, I got involved with helping them at CAM and advertising Defiant Beauty products. They are so natural and work so effectively at calming and nurturing my skin, that I felt thrilled at being able to share this product with others, not just cancer patients. After being involved with a couple of other BDC projects too, being a member of the BDC team is both an honour and a privilege that I am so excited to talk about. I owe Jennifer and the team so much and am very excited about working with them in the future.