Elevating the Conversation around Cancer
A couple of days ago, on the morning of the 5th September 2018, Rachel Bland passed away peacefully at home almost two years after being diagnosed with cancer.
She was a BBC presenter and her diagnosis prompted her to start a podcast about cancer called 'You Me and the Big C' #YouMeBigC and she also documented her journey on a blog that went on to win some awards.
I must be honest and admit that I hadn't heard of Rachel before news of her death swept across the news cycle. However, I am moved by the way in which she made use of the time she had left.
After my own diagnosis (of cancer), I am very conscious of the time I have left - although I have no idea how long that will be. Like Rachel, I too look to offer what support and comfort I can to those suffering with the disease as well as those family members around them who also suffer but in a different way. My honest and open sharing of what happened to me (as well as what has happened since) I hope will bring understanding and perhaps comfort for those with cancer as well as those supporting someone who has it.
I am also amazed and pleased that Rachel's impact in raising awareness and promoting openness about cancer is set to live on beyond her life. The fact that every news channel in the UK was discussing cancer, its impact and effect as well as signposting places for help and support shortly after she died as a direct result of her work is encouraging.
Cancer has come a long way from being the death sentence it once was. However the mention of it's name can still strike fear into people and is often avoided, almost treated as taboo.
Let's be brave. Let's face reality. Cancer is here and we need to talk about it. We need to understand it and we need to learn the best ways in which we can support those who have it, whether it is leading to a positive or negative outcome.
Rachel was 40 - I am 39.
She found a lump under her arm that led to diagnosis - so did I.
She has young kids - so do I.
The similarities of our journeys have overlaps, although she had a different cancer to mine and our lives are very different.
I am saddened by her death and recognize its pang, although I can't begin to fathom the loss her family are experiencing right now. My thoughts and prayers are with them.
So thank you Rachel.
Thank you for a fight well fought and thank you for elevating the conversation around cancer.