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Anita acts on good advice

An actress in a Cancer Research UK course relates how she took good advice, saw a doctor, and survived cancer in part because she was diagnosed early.
ANITA: Hi, again. You might remember that the last time you saw me I was feeling unwell. Well, although I was worried about what it could be, I just kept pushing it to the back of my mind, convincing myself that everything was normal, even though it really wasn’t. It took my sister asking me lots of questions to make me realise that what was happening to me wasn’t normal for me. And she suggested that I make a list of all my symptoms and, well, when I saw them all written down I could see that something wasn’t right. So she encouraged me to make an appointment with my GP, in fact, she really was so supportive. She even offered to go with me.
And I went to my doctor. I showed her my list, and she was really understanding, but concerned. So she referred me, urgently, to the hospital for more investigations. And I was seen within about two weeks. Well, to cut a long story short, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. It was a real shock. But the consultant said that they had caught it early, which because of that my treatment was a success. Well, following on from my experience, I decided I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to help others. You know, before I was ill I very rarely had access to the right information or even knew where to find it.
And certainly when I was younger I never checked whether I was using reliable resources. So actually a lot of what I believed about cancer and health was wrong. It is so important that we get everybody talking about cancer so that we can share the right information with them. So now I spend a lot of my time going out into the community, talking to people about cancer, and about how to reduce the risk by making healthier lifestyle choices. And I also talk about how important it is to know what’s normal for you and to act on anything, anything that seems unusual or that doesn’t go away. And another thing that I really try and help people understand is bowel screening.
I have mine done every two years, since I was 60, and I understand that it’s uncomfortable for people to talk about it, or they might be nervous about taking the test. But you know I reassure them it really doesn’t take that long and it’s just another thing we can do to help spot cancer earlier. And in fact, one of the things that I use to help people to understand is this animation from Cancer Research UK. In fact, there’s loads of great information on the Cancer Research UK website, and their leaflets are fantastic as well.

Watch Anita share her experiences.

From Anita’s story we can see how a conversation can have a significant impact. By using appropriate questions, Anita’s sister encouraged her to recognise that her symptoms were not normal for her, and to seek advice from a doctor.

Her sister’s support and encouragement led to Anita’s cancer being diagnosed at an early stage, and as a result her treatment was successful.

Activity and Discussion

Do you have examples of effective Talking About Cancer conversations you are proud of? Please tell us about them in the comments section if you think others could learn from your good practice.

Please remember not to use any names or other identifiable personal information about anyone.

What’s next?

In the next step you will start developing an action plan for talking about cancer. We will also find out how Brian is doing.

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Talking About Cancer: Reducing Risk, Early Detection and Myth-busting

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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