A woman smiling and waving from a podium.

Getting the Bladder Cancer Message to Congress

As you may have read, I had many plans for Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. One of these was reaching out to my local member of parliament (the UK's rough equivalent to a US Congressman). I sent the email in mid-April to my Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP).

In the email, I explained some basic facts about bladder cancer. I also made them aware that it had never been debated in the Scottish Parliament and was last debated by the UK Government in the 1950s! Yes, you read that right.

Hoping, waiting, and wishing

Bladder Cancer Awareness Month, like May itself, was coming to an end, and I had heard nothing back. I was pretty busy with work and other things, so I made a note for the following week, and I decided to phone the MSP's local office to check if the email had been received.

Then, on the 31st of May, the reply to the email I wanted arrived in my box. It acknowledged my email and invited me to come and meet my MSP. I was extremely excited about the opportunity this would bring. The chance to fly the flag for bladder cancer, raise awareness and get the topic in some shape or form onto the political agenda here in Scotland.

Discussing strategy

In the following weeks, I worked closely with Fight Bladder Cancer, a UK Bladder Cancer charity, to discuss my approach and strategy for the meeting.

They sent me documents to "leave behind" after the meeting. The charity also sent me 2 t-shirts, one for myself and hopefully one that the MSP would be willing to wear for a photo. I was really looking forward to getting the message out there.

The big day

Today was the day. I got up early and got myself ready for the big meeting. I made sure my PowerPoint presentation was prepared and had the documentation I needed. My t-shirt was ironed, and I put it on. I put the other t-shirt into my bag and crossed my fingers that he would wear it for a photoshoot.

I arrived promptly for the meeting. He met me at reception and shook my hand. I explained what I wanted to achieve from our meeting. I explained what bladder cancer was and told him my story. I talked about work to raise awareness and support research, along with other things.
I ended with what I wanted from the government.

For me, that was for bladder cancer to be debated in parliament. Also, a Parliamentary Question (PQ) to be asked and addressed around the delayed diagnosis, specifically of females in some cases, and the knock-on effect on late-stage diagnoses.

Getting the message to congress

I was delighted by how interested he was. He was so supportive and took notes throughout the meeting. It was a very engaging conversation. I was being heard. I was delighted when he agreed to the photo opportunity. He also shared the photos on his social media.

The icing on the cake is he has agreed to "sponsor" an event for Fight Bladder Cancer in Parliament later this year. We will continue to work together to raise awareness, so watch the space! Today was a good day and so rewarding. It is lovely that you are making a difference for those facing bladder cancer in the months and years ahead.

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