Same destination, but so many routes!

Since I have been on my personal journey from my cancer diagnosis, I initially thought that there was a fairly standard route for patients, a bit like a map that was followed, from initial diagnosis to end of treatment. If you have a certain disease, then you get a certain treatment, to produce hopefully a positive outcome. I seemed quite clear in my mind how I thought the thing would work.

I soon found out, that assumption was only for standard patients! Actually I don’t think I have found a standard patient since I started. Everyone is so totally different! Yes, we might have the same disease, and even the same stage, at diagnosis, but that is where the similarities end.Some of us are in better health than others when we start treatment. Some react better than others to treatment, some have a better outcome than others from treatment.

It might seem obvious, but age has a part to play in this too. Generally, the younger and fitter you are, the more able you are to be able to tolerate some tough treatment, and hopefully, the quicker your recovery time might be.

If I take my own case as an example, there were several of us of similar disease and age. We all had stem cell transplants. Some have picked up their careers, as if nothing has happened, some have since passed away, and some like me are still having treatment for some complication or other.

With all the above information, it made me think about the diversity of the patients as well. For example we have so many different nationalities, and cultures. Male/female and children and older people. Wow!! Every case is extremely individual. How the patient, views things, deals with treatment, hospital appointments, emotional and psychological care, and family life.The effects on family and friends is different in every case

I used to work in the East End of London, and on Commercial Road, I was the only English guy, amongst so many different faith groups. I worked in that area for about 15 years, and had a great deal of fun. We all got on well and we had one common thread that joined us together, which was business!

So when I got involved in volunteering with people affected by cancer, I was interested in Afro Caribbean groups, or Asian Support groups, ladies support groups etc. I knew the very contrast of cultures involved, but I was a little surprised that the common bond of a cancer diagnosis could not do more to bind these groups together. I really do appreciate that particularly in the UK we have a very multicultural society, and I am still a little surprised that people can’t get together, whatever nationality or belief

I really do believe that we will have a far better chance of improving things quicker, if we could reach a truly representative group of people. I do spend a lot of my time talking about integration and health matters, as I feel there is a long way to go yet on that matter.

Whilst talking about the above, generally I am talking about the adult population. I would also like to give a mention to a group of people that tend to get forgotten at times, and that is teenagers. They face a whole host of different problems, and although there is support out there, it doesn’t seem to be as readily available as some of the support for adults.

Teens have very different psychological and emotional problems, and dealing with these problems in their developing years can be traumatic. Not just for the teens but the parents too!
In my work, I have had the privilege of meeting some teenagers, who have been diagnosed with cancer, and they are all stars. But even things like coming in as an inpatient, or having chemo, there are very rarely others of a similar age around, and that can leave a feeling of isolation and frustration. Who else can understand their problems like someone their own age?

I have now seen work starting which will improve facilities for younger patients, which is great. There is also a lot going on behind the scenes, working to improve integration amongst groups too.

I would like to leave you with a simple analogy, which I hope will demonstrate what I would like to see for cancer patients of all races and beliefs.

On a Saturday my family and I go to football along with another 15,000 people. All nationalities back grounds etc. We all talk to people we don’t know, before, during, and after the game, about our common passion, football. We then all go home, and the process is repeated in two weeks time. We have only one common bond, but it is a strong one. I look forward to the day when this can happen with different groups.

15,000 people can make much more difference than my family of 4. Can you see my methodology??

 What do you think? Maybe you think things are fine as they are.? People are interested in your views so please take a moment to make a comment.

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