Matt's story

Matt and his family

Matt, standing on the right, with his brother, Mum, sister and Dad.

After Matt’s Mum died in 2018, his brother and dad were both diagnosed with cancer within two months. Matt’s brother died two months later, and his dad in November 2020, missing out on quality family time with his dad due to the Covid pandemic. Not having a cancer diagnosis himself made Matt cautious to apply. But, he felt his experiences as a carer and loved one, and as a man under 40 would offer a different perspective of cancer to the group. 

“Ever since I was a young child and my Mum was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, I feel like I’ve lived with cancer. My dad also had experience of cancer having Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma as a teenager. As a close knit family we did everything we could to understand, support and keep each other positive. 

Not being with Dad in his final days in hospital due to Covid restrictions was incredibly hard. I’d spent long days at the hospice with my Mum & brother and saw the amazing care they received. Dad was the rock who kept my sister and I strong while we struggled to process losing Mum and our brother. Losing Dad brought an end to a very painful three years. 

I'm angry at cancer but supporting the amazing work CRUK does was a no-brainer given my personal experiences. I gained a lot of strength from fellow panel members and it’s helped me process some of my experiences. I'm valued and encouraged as a panel member and the positivity from staff helps me to enjoy the role. Online meetings help, allowing me to slot them into my work schedule. The pre-read documents are clear and well organised. They normally never take more than an hour to go through.

Cancer affects almost everyone in the UK in one way or another so it's vital to hear from people of all backgrounds. The panel has people from different ethnic backgrounds, nations and with different disabilities. This makes our conversations richer. We’ll never move on from current health inequities without a diverse representation. If you think you’re not the right person, you may surprise yourself by putting yourself forward.
I want to see an end to cancer for my sake and for others living with the condition today.”

Have you or a loved one been affected by cancer? Are you looking for an opportunity to do something different and develop new skills? Use your experience of cancer to influence work taking place across Cancer Research UK

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