Why I shared my story about radiotherapy
It can be hard to talk about cancer and radiotherapy, people who shared their stories explain why they did it.
I’ve never had radiotherapy, but I use it to treat patients with gynaecological cancer.
I actually got involved through a friend, but quickly realised there were things I wanted to explore creatively, despite not doing creative writing since school.
As a researcher, it was great to hear patients’ stories on a personal rather than professional level and this allowed me to explore my sometimes mixed feelings about my job.
I built my story about these conflicts and I feel it really captures the emotional aspects of my job.
I got involved in the project to raise awareness of radiotherapy using the words of someone that has been through that process.
Although I was outside my comfort zone, I enjoyed the challenge and the interactions with artists and other participants, and it made me realise what a positive experience my radiotherapy treatment was.
I have attempted to portray how my story began with anger and frustration but ended on a positive high.
I’m not the kind of person who goes out and runs a marathon to raise money for a cause, so instead, after having radiotherapy, I decided to use my experience to make a difference to others.
I wasn’t very good at English in school, but during this process I discovered I could write poetry - this was a real revelation for me.
I have tried to communicate my story through the visual artwork, using images that represent the words that I have used in my poetry and the story.
I am keen to share my experiences to help inform others, particularly those about to walk the same path or with curiosity to explore.
Taking part in Radiotherapy and Me brought to mind things I’d taken for granted and made me reflect on what it felt like being a human in the machine.
I have tried to illustrate that the unknown can be known, or anticipated particularly using images of myself, and from fiction and fact.
I got involved with the project as I wanted to help others. I discovered that revisiting my experience was quite emotional.
I enjoyed writing my story down as I love words, but as one more used to facilitating others with art work (I am a primary school teacher) I found the visual representation really tricky, but the patience and support of the team around us helped me complete it.
What I want to come across is, basically, I’ve faced one of my greatest fears. I’ve worked in healthcare all my life and I’ve supported people with a cancer diagnosis, and it is something that, as healthcare professionals, becomes a big fear.
Being part of this process has been really cathartic. It’s been probably the best therapeutic intervention I’ve had throughout my whole cancer journey. I think it’s been a process of self-discovery which I hope will continue.