Sharing The Word: Raising Awareness of Bladder Cancer
Today was a good day. Through a UK Bladder Cancer Charity, I was approached to do a talk, and that talk was today. It was to talk to a patient group at a doctor's office in England keen to learn more about bladder cancer.
It was great timing, especially since it is bladder cancer awareness month.
A discussion around something not often talked about
I had some slides from the charity with the key bladder cancer facts. To this, I added my own story and experiences in a presentation to share and talk through with the group. It was a remote event, and I presented via Zoom.
The week before, the organizer told me they had cleared the whole agenda, so after the first 10 minutes, the rest of the 2 hours was mine. This scared me a little, but I was also excited to have the opportunity to get the message out there.
The chair of the patients' group explained they had invited different speakers each month to raise awareness of different conditions and illnesses. This means when the doctor's office patients reached out to them for some support or guidance, they had a better understanding. It also gave them the knowledge of where to direct the patients for further support and guidance.
I didn't need to have worried. The audience responded so well to the presentation. Not only were there lots of questions, but it turned into a real discussion point.
"Never heard of it"
The audience was made up of patients of the doctor's office, administration staff, and medical staff too. As you would expect, the questions' initial focus was around symptoms closely followed by treatments.
Both these topics were covered on the slides at a high level, and it was good to see the level of engagement and the fact people were keen to learn more. Like in most settings, when bladder cancer is raised, people freely admit they have never heard of it or indeed hadn't until a personal experience or a journey with someone close to them.
Two people shared their experiences. One on their own journey, which they were still walking through. The other is supporting a friend with symptoms and waiting for testing to confirm if it is bladder cancer.
I was really pleased with how well the information was received. I was even more delighted with how the audience responded to it. There was a genuine interest among the audience to understand the symptoms, types of treatment, and how people live with bladder cancer.
Equally to my delight was the genuine interest in ostomies – what they are, how they work, and how you manage life with one.
As a patient group, they were passionate about joining the awareness campaign and sharing materials online and in the doctor's practice. They also asked how else they could get involved. We had so many ideas that we brainstormed together. We already have plans to ensure we don't lose momentum and push forward with putting them into action.
Sharing your knowledge can be so rewarding
I found the whole experience so rewarding. I realize while social media is a great platform for sharing awareness of bladder cancer and reaching a large audience, the personal touch is good too. I enjoyed the interaction with them. While we used technology to host the event, seeing people in person and engaging with one another seemed so valuable.
I hope to get involved in similar events as the year progress. It went so well, and I was honestly in awe at these remarkable people who wanted to know more, and help to share the word this Bladder Cancer Awareness Month.
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