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A fly on the wall at the London patient conference

written by

Leukaemia Care, Charity

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The room starts to fill up as people take their seats, many of them have come alone but soon start chatting to the people next to them.

The unfortunate thing is, everyone in this room is here because they have something in common. That something is a connection to blood cancer, yet, there are so many cheerful faces and warm smiles as I look around the room.

The first patient speaker makes her way to the front of the room, her thick glossy hair swishing behind her. She looks the picture of health and has a happy buzz around her. It’s people like this that make these conferences worthwhile, it’s people like this that make working for Leukaemia CARE that little bit more special.

As our speaker begins her story, she tells us about her diagnosis, the low points of cutting her hair off as it began to fall out, the love and support that her friends and family gave her, and the aspects of having blood cancer that you might not think about.

It’s so refreshing to hear the honest, yet bittersweet thoughts of a real blood cancer patient. There were many moments where our speaker would say something so brutally honest and funny, yet it was tinged with the inevitable sadness.

When we break for lunch, everyone grabs a plate and tucks into some food, finding a seat and very quickly finding someone new to talk to, someone who knows exactly how they feel. Although the situation of many of the guests here isn’t always so cheerful, the day is completely the opposite. Instead, the conference is filled with stories from patients who are getting on with their lives, cycling from London to Paris, working again in high-flying jobs, living life to the full.

Alongside the multiple cups of tea and delicious chunky cookies, the rest of the day unfolded with talks from professionals on subjects that really mattered, covering everything from fertility, the taboo of sexuality and tips for coping with blood cancer.

So, what was the best part? Well, for me, the conference was the perfect opportunity for everyone there to realise they are not alone, to realise that there is support and information here for them and ultimately, to realise that although it may not seem like it, every cloud has a silver lining.

The second guest speaker, Dave Rogers, summed it up for me, he said, “try to take all the positives from your experience. Live life and live it large!”

If you’d like more information on our patient and carer conferences, visit our website.

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