In January of 2012 I was diagnosed with sinus cancer, out of the blue, from nowhere, no signs and no illness, how could it be?
I was aware of cancer, but fortunately I had not been exposed to it other than on TV. I had been lucky, none of my relatives have had cancer, none of my friends either, but suddenly I was thrown into this world that others lived in, a world that I didn’t really acknowledge.
My first feelings of course were shock and horror, I mean, at 38 why would I get cancer, let alone in my face? Yet I also felt very guilty. I felt guilty that I had not really known about this, not realised the suffering or pain that patients and families go through every day, the fight of people facing a cancer diagnosis every day.
It took me losing half of my top jaw to really understand what cancer does, not just the physical, but the pain it causes family and friends. Cancer has an effect on so many people around it, in so many different ways.
World Cancer Day, for me, is about everyone knowing for just a moment, just the briefest of times, the devastation cancer causes and for each and everyone one of us to try and help fight and beat this awful disease.
Oral cancer is infrequently talked about in the press, it doesn't get the profile of some of the major cancers, yet those that have had it can have the worst after effects - people losing their eyes, their jaws, their nose, unable to speak or eat again.
It’s one thing to beat cancer, it is another to live with the after effects of the treatment. I now have had the pleasure (yes pleasure) to meet some of these people and they are some of the strongest, most positive people I know.
My world changed because of cancer, but on World Cancer Day, let’s change the world together, let’s stand tall, let’s talk about cancer and help make strides to a future where cancer doesn’t exist.