Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

The C Word

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Look out for Sheridan Smith portraying Lisa Lynch this Sunday , May 3rd.

Lisa was diagnosed with breast cancer at 28. She decided to blog about her experience of the C Word and to “tell it the way I see it” – it was the only way to cope with whatever came next.

Lisa Lynch studied journalism with the ambition of one day editing Smash Hits. But as something called the internet happened and her favourite magazine became no more, Lisa found herself writing about wallpaper instead of Westlife.


At the age of 28, while editing her second national interiors title, Lisa discovered a lump in her breast – a lump that spawned not just grade-three cancer, but a blog, a book, a writing career and a BBC film. (Talk about milking it.)

Some three years down the line – with newly grown hair, a newly published book and a newly perky rack – Lisa dared to assume that she’d seen the worst… only for the c-word to crop up once more: this time in her bones and brain, and this time incurable.

You can read Lisa’s frank blog here

One in three of us is likely to be diagnosed with cancer and every single one of us will be directly affected by the diagnosis of a loved one or friend. I know how that feels, my 23 year old son having been diagnosed with a mediastinal germ cell tumour on Christmas Eve.

Everything about a diagnosis is devastating but the inability of some people to know what to say to you in the circumstances comes as quite a shock. Some people decide simply not to talk to you at all. Either for fear of upsetting you or from simply not knowing what to say.

If that’s you, at the very least please just tell the person affected you’re thinking about them. If you know them well then give them a hug. A hug can mean you don’t need to say anything.

Our peer advocates are supporting many older people affected by cancer; those either with a diagnosis or affected by that diagnosis (like me). They listen, they support, they encourage but they never ignore.

If you’d like to find out more about peer advocacy support then comment on this post. We’d love to hear from you.

The C Word can be seen on Sunday 3 May on BBC One at 2030 BST.

Marie McWilliams is OPAAL’s National Development Officer and leads on the Cancer, Older People and Advocacy programme.


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