My name is Mary Spreadbury and I am 72 years of age. I have had cancer 3 times and I am still living a busy life and most of all I am enjoying myself. I sit on the Local Cancer Champions Board in Knowsley, where KPAIS are delivering the Cancer Older People and Advocacy project.
I would like to share my experience with you. I have had 2 mastectomies and reconstruction. The first mastectomy was in December1995 when I was studying for my degree. I had 6 weeks of radiotherapy (of course weekends off for good behaviour!) I went back to college and continued with my studies. The second was a year later almost to the day in December 1996. Then chemo and all that goes with it.
I have had a few frights along the way. At one time they thought the cancer had gone to my lungs, but luckily enough it was found to be the damage caused by the treatment that I have had to keep me alive. Another time there was a lump in my neck, that was fatty tissue and so it goes on. I always smile when they tell you that you are in remission, whatever that means.
I only had advocacy help in the last couple of years. As I’m getting older I feel I need specialist help because my needs change with ageing. This is why I’m volunteering with Knowsley Cancer Older People and Advocacy as it’s so important that advocacy for older people affected by cancer is a must.
I was asked by Alan, our local project co-ordinator if I would be interested in doing some further cancer training and I jumped at the opportunity to attend a ‘Let’s Talk Cancer’ training day in Gateshead!!
During the first session it was explained to us how cancers develop, how early diagnosis and screening can influence survival rates with many treatments available. It was explained that healthy eating, exercise and cutting out smoking and drinking can have a huge impact on reducing risk.
Patricia seen here at an earlier event
There was a session on how to build up the confidence to talk to people about cancer which would be very helpful if faced with this situation. This session was very beneficial to me and was delivered in a relaxed and easy to understand way.
I left with lots of information leaflets and details of local cancer organisations, which I will share with other members at the local Gateshead Cancer Champions meeting next week.
Though I was on my own, everyone made me feel so welcome. I enjoyed the day and learnt quite alot and was able to fully contribute. I would certainly recommend it to anyone, as a person affected by cancer myself and will be encouraging others to follow suit!!