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Awareness and Early DiagnosisCancer Champions

Meet the Team: Cancer Champions

By 8th November 2020November 23rd, 2020No Comments

Over the last two years, Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance have helped to raise awareness of cancer by delivering free Cancer Champion awareness sessions to over 2,000 people across the Humber, Coast and Vale region.

Here you can find out more about the trainers behind the programme, as Emma, Zoe and Sarah share information about the programme, their roles and what it means to be a Cancer Champion.

Photo of Emma Lewin, volunteer co-ordinator is stood in front of a brick wall holdig a photo prop of the Cancer Champions logo. Emma is looking at the camera and smiling. She has blonde shoulder length hair, a fringe and glasses. She is wearing a pink top and grey trousers.

Emma Lewin
Volunteer Co-ordinator

Tell us a little bit about yourself
I have worked for the NHS for 8 years in administrative roles after working in the private sector in a variety of industries. I received a Business Administration degree last year (quite a few years after leaving school at the age of 16).

I have a 10 year old daughter and was very proud when she was telling me about the nurse coming to her school to talk about “body changes” and they mentioned about breast checking and how important this is. She told them, “I already know about this, as mummy talks about doing this in her job”.

What is the best part of your job?
I have loved getting out and about to deliver the Cancer Champion sessions around Humber, Coast and Vale area over the last 2 years and have met hundreds of people, helped make them aware about the early signs and symptoms of cancer and heard their stories.

During the first lockdown, we were able to develop our Cancer Champion workshops so that we could continue to deliver them albeit virtually, so that we can continue sharing the important messages about cancer and screening.

What does delivering Cancer Champion awareness sessions mean to you?
I was diagnosed in 2002 with a benign brain tumour and received stereotactic radiotherapy which shrank it in size and meant that no further treatment was required. I also have friends and family who have been diagnosed with cancer and this is something that inspires me to want to help more people to be aware of those early signs and symptoms of cancer and help them to seek assistance early.

If you share one piece of advice about cancer, what would it be?
Know your body – what is “normal” for you and be aware if anything changes; a lump that appears, a cough that doesn’t clear or sudden weight loss/gain without trying and that if something changes to seek medical assistance.

Sarah Patten
Project Officer

Tell us a little bit about yourself
I joined the Cancer Champion programme in 2019 after my best friend was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. She was only 36, had two young children and was recently separated from her husband. I’ll never forget her words “I have breast cancer, I’m scared I’m going to die”. Thankfully the cancer hadn’t spread and I supported her through her cancer treatment, seeing first hand, the impact her diagnosis had, on both her and her family. It was at the same time I learnt that 1 in 8 women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis in their lifetime.

As a Cancer Champion trainer, I love being able to inspire people to feel confident talking about cancer and to promote the importance of the NHS cancer screening programmes, all of which aim to detect cancer at an early stage.

Photo of Sarah Patten stood in front of a brick wall. Sarah has short dark hair and is looking at the camera smiling. She is holding a photo prop which is of an enlarged Cancer Champion logo.

What is the best part of your job?
Receiving the ‘Cancer Champion Pledges’ after each session.   It’s fantastic when you read what impact the session has had and reading how Cancer Champions plan to use their ‘new’ knowledge about cancer, signs and symptoms and to share our vital cancer messages. A great example, “I pledge to encourage my children to get into good habits of self-checking themselves on a regular basis and to continue to do so. I also now have the information and knowledge to talk confidently and sign post people I come into contact with regarding getting checked out when necessary.”

What does delivering Cancer Champion awareness sessions mean to you?
I feel extremely privileged to be able to support people to recognise the early signs and symptoms of cancer, and truly believe that our programme of awareness makes a huge difference, enabling people to detect cancer as early as possible. It’s fantastic to be able to embrace the new ‘virtual’ world of delivering Cancer Champion awareness sessions, allowing us to reach many more people over a large geographical area.

If you share one piece of advice about cancer, what would it be?
Try to surround yourself with a network of people who remind you regularly how fantastic you’re doing, who encourage you to share how you’re feeling, remind you to celebrate the good days and accept there will be bad days. #itsokaytonotbeokay

Photo of Zoe Bounds standing in front of a brick wall. Zoe is holding a photo prop of the Cancer Champion logo. Zoe is smiling and has shoulder length, dark, hair.

Zoe Bounds
Project Officer

Tell us a little bit about yourself
First and foremost I’m a Mum to 4 amazing children. I’m an ex special needs teacher and twice cancer survivor having had Ovarian cancer in 1995 at the age of 17 and Breast cancer in 2013 at 35. I originate from the Midlands and brought my children up in Cornwall. Whilst I miss the Cornish beaches, I’m very much at home here in York, especially having found a couple of stunning beaches on the Yorkshire coast.  I run a local breast cancer support charity in my spare time and my weekends are spent walking my dog Riley, watching my son play football or cooking with my daughter. I can bake far too well and I crochet not well enough.

What is the best part of your job?
Making a lasting, often life-long impact on people’s lives. The messages we deliver can be passed out far and wide as well as down the generations and have the potential to save many lives. Recently, I had a message from someone had heard me speak about cancer awareness. She wrote “A few months ago I found a lump. Thanks to you I knew how to check. It turned out it was ‘just’ a cyst but if it hadn’t been for you I might not have known to check myself regularly. I just wanted to say thank you and keep doing what you do”. This is all the evidence I need to continue to have a passion for spreading cancer awareness.

What does delivering Cancer Champion awareness sessions mean to you?
It’s personal. I often joke that I’m so fed up of cancer forcing its way into my life that I have taken this job to gain some control over which area of my life it is involved with… but seriously, I do want to combine my cancer experiences with my teaching skills to try and limit the amount of people who have similar experiences to mine as both my cancers were found at stage 3, so my treatments have been gruelling and left me with lifelong side effects, as well as seriously impacting on my family and friends around me.

If you share one piece of advice about cancer, what would it be?
Cancer isn’t going away any time soon, so let’s protect ourselves with the information we need to spot cancers at the earliest possible stage, so that they can be treated less invasively and have the most successful outcomes. I’m sure we’d all agree that cancer isn’t the most cheery of subjects, but knowing that 1 in 2 people in the UK will develop cancer in their life time and that more than 50% of people diagnosed with cancer survive it, clearly shows that cancer isn’t necessarily a death sentence anymore.

The Cancer Champion team do our best to make the session light and add some humour and we know it’s well received. One of our recently trained Cancer Champions told us “In those short 90 minutes I leant so much about cancer and also really enjoyed myself – something I didn’t expect with such a serious topic!”

Become a Cancer Champion

It’s easier than you think to make a difference. Take part in free a 90 minute cancer awareness session and learn how to spot the early signs and symptoms of cancer.

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