Controlling the message: how I told the world I had cancer
January 23rd, 2015
In this age of social media, there is a running joke that it didn’t really happen unless you posted it on Facebook. All major events of my life have been documented on there: my wedding, my 30th birthday and now my cancer diagnosis.
In November, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 29. To say I was shocked was an understatement. I have no family history and of course, I was only 29. For the first few weeks I only told my immediate friends and family, partly because I was still finding out details of my diagnosis and what it meant for my future, and also because I was embarrassed. Who gets cancer in their 20s?
However, a few weeks in and with a positive prognosis, the comms person in me kicked in and I decided to ‘control the message’. It was a matter of time until people would start to hear whispers and the last thing I wanted was gossip and people assuming I was dying.
I was also shocked at how many other young women confessed to me that they didn’t do self-examinations as they either thought they were too young or too scared. If I hadn’t checked, my outlook could have been very different by the time it was discovered.
So I wrote a post on Facebook explaining what had happened, how important it was that young women understood how essential it is to do self-examinations and provided links to charities people could donate to if they were feeling generous. I wanted something positive to come out of my experience. I honestly didn’t expect much of a response as I thought it would make people feel very uncomfortable. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The outpouring of love and support was overwhelming and I’m so glad I did it.
I’m now two months in and I have decided it was time to write this blog in an attempt to once again control the message. I have been absent on Twitter for a while and although a few people in the industry know, I wanted all the lovely people I have met and worked with over the years to hear this from me:
I was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer in November. I had a lumpectomy and became cancer free also in November. I am currently on long term sick leave and receiving treatment but I will be ok. I’m really looking forward to seeing you all again in the summer albeit with slightly less hair!
In the meantime, if you guys feel generous I have put links to some amazing charities below and please do all check your boobs!
Categories: Breast cancer • Helen Deverell • Internal communication
Great post Helen. You have such a positive outlook which I’m sure is a true inspiration to others.
Hi Helen, such amazing courage – I wish you a continued (and speedy) recovery Cx
You’re wonderful Helen, am very glad you decided to hit publish on this post. Beautifully controlled, and I have every confidence in your ability to kick cancer to the kerb, Rachel
That must have been a crazy and scary few months. All the best with your continued recovery Helen.
Helen, it takes a brave person to share a private revelation within a public setting. Thank you for sharing – you never know who may benefit from hearing about your courage and insight.
[…] wrote on her blog in January about controlling the message: how I told the world I had cancer. An extract from her post is […]
[…] year I was diagnosed with breast cancer and after much deliberation I decided to tell people via my blog. I wanted to control the message about what was happening to me and I also wanted to raise […]