Our expert cancer blogger and NT Award winner Liz Darlison talks about hopes and fears for the National Cancer Leadership Programme, and her punishing work schedule
This is the invitation from Sara Lister, Royal Marsden Assistant Chief Nurse and Head of School, to attend Module 1 of the National Cancer Leadership Programme.
Reading the letter in the middle of a busy day at Mesothelioma UK, I thought briefly about the impending module and the course in general.
I wondered what to wear, and had my own take on the points raised in the letter:
‘Go for a run if you wish’ - Oh no I bet they are all super fit, water drinking, veggies!
‘Time between the sessions’ - That will be a breath of fresh air, a little R&R in my busy schedule is always welcome.
'The Cancer Reform Strategy' - I must remember to refresh my memory and reread it beforehand.
‘360° Leadership Effectiveness’ - Time to hear the truth about where I am in all this I guess!
And then there’s my Alan Sugar thought again. What have I let myself in for?
I promise to prepare well. I am convinced I can’t afford to take my foot of the gas.
A busy Meso UK day usually involves a few helpline calls or emails. Fifty-five per cent of contacts to our service are from patients/carers who are living with Meso every day, grappling with treatment, trying to make choices, dealing with the benefits system for the first time and worried they are missing out on some miraculous cure available elsewhere. Or they may just be feeling generally lost, alone and frightened.
I usually have issues relating to my local caseload of patients to address, perhaps a referral to a member of the wider healthcare team or a discussion with a worried relative or carer. I also lead a local team of nurse specialists and work on projects related to Meso UK, some of which I hope to share with you along the way.
I spend an extraordinary amount of time preparing presentations and lectures about Mesothelioma and the work of Meso UK for conferences up and down the country and for pre- and post-graduate nursing programmes. I am always delighted to be able to share my Meso knowledge and expertise. Mostly I consider it a patient advocacy role, spreading the gospel about the needs of patients and carers.
Not wanting to be alarmist, I also consider presenting and lecturing to be about health education. Many of our current public service buildings such as schools, libraries and hospitals were built during our peak asbestos consumption years, highlighting the injustice of asbestos-related industrial diseases such as Mesothelioma. None of us are spared the risk of being exposed to asbestos.
Over the next three weeks I will be presenting in various settings and organisations. I will be in Portsmouth at a Meso meeting for over 250 health care professionals, Kent at another meeting for 180. I will also be presenting at a Celebration of Nursing event organised by the University Hospitals of Leicester nurse consultant group, which I am a member of. The group nominated me to present about my leadership experience because I won the Cancer Nurse Leader Award. Finally I have been invited to speak at the All-Party Parliamentary Asbestos Group meeting in the House of Commons. All in a day's work eh!