Published on: 4 May 2019

THE SAYING goes that a picture tells a thousand words and here at the SYBND Cancer Alliance we had a bit of an idea… It seems to have taken off!

We have gone out through traditional and social media to ask for people to share their pictures and videos from their cancer journey. The appeal is aptly titled ‘Cancer: A picture tells a thousand words’ and is designed for people to share their images so that we can not only encourage conversations about cancer and support early diagnosis but to inspire others going through similar circumstances. Not only that but we will be using the images to engage with patients and people affected by cancer to understand their experiences of cancer care; what went well, what could have been improved, truly putting patients at the heart of all we do.

Sue Yates, a former breast cancer patient and a trustee of the national charity ‘Flat Friends UK’, which supports ladies living without reconstruction after mastectomy, was the first to agree to tell her story through images of her journey. She said: “A picture tells a thousand words! For me this is about creating a legacy and helping others by talking about and showing real experiences of cancer through images and pictures. Many of us take photos to document our cancer journey – whether that is having treatment or how we felt after, just living with the illness.

“I think it’s really positive that people can share their stories to help others by inspiring them, showing what it’s like to have treatment. It’s also our opportunity to work with organisations connected with cancer care to understand what works well as well as how things could improve to make it better for the patients, their families and loved ones.”

Ann-Marie.pngSince the campaign launched in January, we’ve gained attention from regional press including Calendar News, radio and newspapers. Not to mention the shares and likes across social media.

So far, we have had an incredible response with submissions coming far and wide across our region. Anne-Marie from Doncaster shared her story with us about her diagnosis, treatment and life with inflammatory breast cancer.
“Acceptance is painful, mortality is scary. It’s a lot to take it when you’re young and was otherwise fit and healthy. But what I have realised is that I am completely happy with my life with one boob or two. Nobody can tell I have a prosthesis they give you, they are amazing. Although I will be having at diep flap surgery at some point in the future, I need to feel whole again”

Anne-Marie’s story was the feature of ITVs Calendar, which will feature interviews from her and her children in their home. Anne-Marie spoke about her cancer story and the reasoning behind her taking photographs throughout her treatment. Her children went on to describe their thoughts and feelings whilst their mum was having treatment, aided by photos from before their Mum’s diagnosis, when she was living with cancer and didn’t know it yet.

Calendar also interviewed Julia Jessop, Programme Director who spoke about how important the appeal is to help shape cancer care across our system: “We want to gather as many pictures as possible and tell as many stories as we can. These stories will then inform how cancer care improves, as well as building awareness of cancer signs and symptoms and the importance of early diagnosis. The images don’t need to be professional looking, nor posed – this is about the reality of cancer.” The Calendar story will be available to view from Friday, 1 March.

If you, or anyone you know has a story to tell through images then please get in touch at sybndcancer.alliance@nhs.net or through our social media channels.

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