Debbie has used her professional skills as well as her experience of cancer to help influence our work through her role as a sounding board member.
What motivated you to get involved in our patient involvement work?
I have Secondary Breast Cancer and for the time being, I have had to retire from my job. I really missed the camaraderie, the team work, and the buzz of creating something meaningful. I wanted to do something that would allow me to use my skills and experience to actually help to shape, influence and benefit the experience of other cancer sufferers. I wanted to give my voice to the work, as I felt my experience of living with cancer gave me a unique insight into the day to day struggles of cancer, what is important to us, and what we need from organisations like Cancer Research UK.
Why is Patient Involvement important to you?
Patient Involvement is essential, and should be at the heart of any charity, as we're the reason the charity has been set up in the first place. There is a tremendous amount that Cancer Research UK can learn from people who have been affected by cancer. By integrating our views into their work, they can ensure they're optimising and continually improving what they do. We need charities like Cancer Research UK to listen, and to understand what cancer is like, how it affects us, and our families and friends.
What has your experience of being involved been like?
It has been challenging, interesting and fun. It has given me an insight into the workings of Cancer Research UK, and the variety of projects they are undertaking, to continually improve what they do for cancer sufferers. Apart from having cancer in common, the other panel members have such a wide range of different skills and experience to bring, that it creates a very powerful platform on which to provide thoughtful, actionable consultation.
How have you felt the staff or researchers you've worked with responded to your input?
They found it invaluable. You know you are making a difference because after every consultation, you get detailed feedback about exactly how much it has helped, not just in terms of improving and shaping their work, but also getting them to think about other issues they hadn't considered.
What would you say to someone thinking about getting involved?
If you want to make a valuable contribution to helping CRUK improve their service to cancer patients, get involved! It is stimulating, interesting, fun, and you really do feel as though you are making a difference. You are listened to; you have a voice.