A conversation just starts with hello or whatever. You could be at the bus stop or you could be in a cafe. I wear my badges and that can start a conversation. It’s that personal contact, when you can drop in the need to check about cancer, to talk about issues that people don’t like to talk about. I do it in a different way than having a clipboard with lots of questions. If you just have a chat in an informal way, I think people engage more; you can mention the word: cancer. We need to reduce that stigma and really get people talking more openly about it.
You always hear of somebody who’s gone through cancer and it’s been negative, where they’ve lost their life, but there’s a lot of people now actually surviving cancer. The more we can get the message out there about how you can live well with cancer, as long as you get it early, then it is a real way forward.
I also support people who are living with cancer. People sometimes don’t know where to turn if they get diagnosed. If they know that there are Cancer Champions to talk to rather than family it can help. The majority of people don’t want to talk to family, because they’re frightened of upsetting them. We can turn it on its side and do something positive. There’s so much out there for people to be supported with. They don’t always know, so it’s getting that message out, about what’s available in the community once somebody is diagnosed.
We need more people in our communities to be Cancer Champions. I know we’re not going to be experts in the field, but I think that’s not always that what people need. Sometimes it’s just somebody to talk to or just someone to offload their concerns to.
I would encourage people to become a cancer champion. If you can help others to overcome what they’re going through, or if you could be that person (who they know) that they can rely on just to talk to, then I would encourage it. It will help people to get that diagnosis early or to get to the doctors to check it out. Having those meaningful conversations could be a part of your everyday life.
There’s so much out there for people to be supported with.