When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, I believe, like so many others I was inundated with so much information and advice I did not know where to turn. Then a light in the form of the BCNA My Journey Kit arrived, and helped me to objectively look at my situation and help me plan the best way forward in partnership with my healthcare team. During the journey of 12 operations and a course of chemotherapy, BCNA was always there to offer support and assistance which I have truly cherished.
Once I was over the worst of the treatment I was very keen to give back to this great organisation that has helped me so much. Firstly I became a Community Liaison which allowed me to speak to community groups, support groups and other organisations about the amazing work done by BCNA. It was also an opportunity to raise awareness about the support that is available to those diagnosed with breast cancer.
As I became more involved with BCNA I was very interested in moving into an advocacy role in the hope of being able to make a difference potentially in the areas of policy and access to treatment that is so vital.
Last year I was extremely lucky to be selected to attend Project LEAD - an advocacy training program run by the National Breast Cancer Coalition from the USA. The week long training program in 2009 was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This was the first time I had ever been to South America and it was an amazing experience. Aside from meeting an incredible group of about 30 women from around the world, I was also able to take advantage of world class training in the science of breast cancer.
This training has been invaluable as recently I was selected to participate in the National Breast Cancer Foundation's selection panel for the Early Career Research Fellowship Grants. The training I received with Project LEAD assisted me in being able to review the applications and understand the research that was being proposed.
It is a very special experience to work in advocacy and I find it incredibly rewarding. The only challenge I face is that I do not have enough time to devote to this as I would like. I have a fabulous job but it does take a lot of my time so I try and fit BCNA activities in to the schedule as much as I can. Forward planning is always the best solution!!
Advocacy is the chance to make a difference on a national and potentially international scale and this provides you with the opportunity to assist those who may be diagnosed in the future. You can make a tangible difference and this is what I love about this role.