Chris’s Cancer Community: An Interview With Its Founder
Stories of giving back cross our desks each day.
So in each #FindTheGood post, we shine a light on those set on making a difference – in spite of their cancer.
Today, meet Chris Lewis – the founder of Chris’s Cancer Community and Your simPal.
Read on to discover how little Chris thinks has changed since his diagnosis with Mantle Cell Lymphoma ten years ago. Get a glimpse into what he wishes people would get about his situation – without him having to explain. And find out what tips he shares with people to help them cope with a lengthy wait between a cancer diagnosis and starting treatment.
You’ve said in the past that you see a lot of people working very hard to improve the lives of people living with cancer. But not in a particularly joined up way. What’s improved since your diagnosis with Mantle Cell Lymphoma Stage IV almost 10 years ago? And what do you think still needs to change?
“Small organisations understand the need to collaborate.”
“There is no desire to share. Just to battle it out for a share of the cancer cash. Most are using new technology and innovation to feather their own nests.”
More than 100,000 people in the UK had to wait more than 2 weeks to see a cancer specialist last year. 25,153 had to wait more than 62 days to start treatment. What’s your reaction to these statistics? And what tips can you share with people to help them cope with the wait between diagnosis and treatment?
Of course those figures will never be good enough. And we must strive to improve things. Yet, we must look at the current reality of the NHS, which whether we like it or not doesn’t have the resources it needs.
You can use statistics to prove anything you want. And somewhere, someone will be working to prioritise the treatment that people need. Not every case of cancer is actually life threatening. But if you’ve got cancer, you don’t want to hear that your treatment will take longer than you thought.
“If you’ve got cancer, you don’t want to hear that your treatment will take longer than you thought.”
You share and collaborate with others so generously. And you work hard to raise awareness of cancer in the community. Let’s bring it back to your own story for a moment. What do you wish people would get about your situation, without you having to explain?
“Cancer can be an invisible illness. I’m delighted when I find people who don’t say ‘you look well!'”
“Until people affected by cancer are at the centre of everything, the system won’t change. “
What are your top tips for staying positive on days that don’t go according to plan?
“I saw up close and personal how poor the support was for people surviving their cancer. And the further I got into it, the more I saw the injustices – despite the kind words of politicians and charities.”
You’re motivated to make something positive of your situation. To make a difference and give something back. We’ve seen it through your work at Macmillan. Your award-winning blog and talks. And your engagement with the The Anthony Nolan Trust and the Lymphoma Association. What’s the bigger purpose driving you, Chris? If everything you’re fighting for today paid off, what would the impact on the world be?
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About Chris Lewis
When Chris Lewis was diagnosed with stage 4 Mantle Cell Lymphoma Stage IV in 2007 his long-term prognosis was poor. Having experienced first-hand how substandard the support was for people surviving their cancer, he established his own support community for patients. More recently his work with Your simPal has helped alleviate the isolation and financial pressure many face by providing free calls, text and mobiles to cancer patients where appropriate.
Today, Chris remains a keen collaborator. He works with several cancer charities, works hard to raise awareness of cancer in the community, speaks at health conferences, helps clinicians understand the impact of a diagnosis and is constantly looking at ways to improve the lives of people affected by cancer. Follow this link to connect with Chris on Twitter. And tap into his support over on Facebook, here.