Finding my voice

It is now 10 weeks and 5 days since I had my operation and I’m delighted to say I am feeling well. I finally feel I am able to manage my fatigue levels and mentally, I feel like I am back on top of my emotions. Overall my wellbeing is in a good place.

Yesterday I met with a Geneticist. Not everyone with a cancer diagnosis will be referred to the Genetics department. Almost 9 in 10 cancer cases in the UK are in people aged 50 or over. Being 32 I am still deemed as being ‘very young’ to have had three separate tumours and therefore I have been offered the opportunity for further testing.

These tests are specifically looking at my genetic make up to see if I have a mutated gene which could make me more susceptible to developing cancer. If this is the case, unfortunately it doesn’t mean it can be prevented but  it does  qualify me for more frequent testing and in case you didn’t know – Early diagnosis is key!

It is unlikely I will get the results before the Spring and the doctor explained that they offer psychological support which is good to know. At the moment I am getting all the support I need from my family, friends and the team at Maggie’s.

On Monday I had the pleasure of being invited to speak at the Scottish Cancer Conference as a Patient Representative. I used my 7 minute slot to share my experience of the past 6 months after being diagnosed in May. It was my first attempt at Public Speaking since surgery. For those who follow my blog you’ll be aware that my speech has suffered slightly. I am told by those closest to me that they barely notice the change now but internally I can feel myself labouring over certain words and the energy required to speak has definitely increased. The thought of speaking at a conference with  an eclectic audience of doctors, MSPs and specialists from a variety of fields should have made me cautious but if anything it just made me more determined to seize the opportunity.

I was part of the final segment which focused on cancers of unmet need – unfortunately brain falls in this category. To finish the afternoon the MC hosted a Q&A with the panel. The final question from the audience was  regarding  the future of research. I am not a doctor, a scientist or researcher  but I was offered the opportunity to share my view and I’d like to share it with you too:

’In 2014 I was given a life expectancy of  2 years. Thanks to the treatment I received I am alive today. All cancer treatments are a result of research. In the 1970s only 1 in 4 people were expected to survive a cancer diagnosis for  10 years or more – today that number has doubled. I am now in the midst of a second battle but i have hope and that is because of cancer research. Research saves lives.’

I unequivocally believe in the work of Cancer Research UK. They provide me and millions of other people touched by cancer the hope we so desperately need.

As always, FUCANCER!

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