Natasha is 27 and studying for her postgraduate degree in Family and Employment Law. In 2016, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and is now in remission after surgery and an intensive chemotherapy regime.
We caught up with Natasha as she enters her second year on the Patient Sounding Board (now called the Cancer Insights Panel). She told us how she balances meetings, her personal life and her studies, what she’s enjoyed most about being involved, and how she thinks she can continue to make a difference for other young people facing cancer.
What motivated you to join the Patient Sounding Board and get involved in CRUK’s work?
“During my treatment I was often the youngest patient, so as a young adult I wanted to offer my insight on factors that may affect different age groups. I wanted to do something that I would not have considered before my illness- to try and gain some confidence back. As cliché as it sounds, doing something outside of my comfort zone has done wonders and I have met some fantastic people! What makes me stay, is the actual amount of input the panel has on anything we are consulted upon. I knew that was the aim, but I was pleasantly surprised at how valuable our opinions and insight are to those working at Cancer Research UK."
Which consultations have you found most interesting?
“I particularly enjoyed the creation of the ‘Your Cancer Treatment Record’, which we had input on from the original idea to the final print edition. This was such an important collaboration with health professionals, using our own experiences and expertise to create an inclusive resource that could be used by anyone undergoing treatment, regardless of their age, cancer type or location.
Another area I enjoy is shaping the media campaigns and adverts that CRUK creates. I have grown up thinking cancer is terrifying. Of course, it is a terrible illness, but the reality can be different. In order to raise awareness and improve early diagnosis, something needs to change. As a group, we’ve been able to ensure the images and messages portrayed are appropriate and realistic.”
As a student, how have you found the time? Have you learned any useful skills?
“All our meetings are scheduled in advance and we are given plenty of notice, which is helpful for balancing other commitments. Personally, I have found the time commitment works as my schedule can be flexible around university lectures.
The staff have provided me with opportunities to develop my skills and interests with their full support and guidance along the way. I was terrified of public speaking beforehand but have now co-hosted a workshop, given a presentation to staff at CRUK and attended countless events."
Join our network
Use your experience of cancer to make an impact by joining our patient involvement network.