"I was still a nurse when I had breast cancer for the first time."

“I was still a nurse when I had breast cancer for the first time. I saw my work in health differently after that. I was and remain HUGELY grateful to the NHS and the care but I also saw the flaws through new eyes.

So my career and mission changed.

I was leading a health charity in Scotland when I worked with others to set up the ALLIANCE and help us all have a voice in how care is delivered and how to support people to live full lives.

I’m so proud of its achievements.

But you know I love to set things up, so when I got the chance to set up a breast cancer charity in Scotland, I jumped at it and moved back to Edinburgh. I was completely smittened by this stunning city and my role leading a charity for a cause so close to my own life. But then it got too close; my cancer had returned. I was lucky it hadn’t spread beyond the breast so I needed just a little more surgery. But not for long, it came back and I lost my breast and my wellbeing. It left me much less active and well.

I left my job and set up my own business as a coach and consultant still doing my best to improve care and support the carers too. Now I’m in my 60s and I’ve become disabled by a benign growth on my spine. If I was a Labrador I would have been euthanised let’s be honest! I’m currently recovering from spinal surgery and slowly-so slowly- regaining some mobility and trying to get on top of pain.

I’m still working a little with the ALLIANCE to transform health and care. I know personally the importance of the expertise of lived experience shaping policy. That expertise has guided much of my working life and there’s so much more still to do. I’ve much to be grateful for especially as I’ve recently become a Grannie and -honestly- life is precious.”

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