Transcript – Life Beyond Cancer: The AfterThoughts Wrap-Up Episode [Season 3, Episode 5]
Hosts and Guests
Toby Peach (Host)
Alice May-Purkiss (Host)
Charlotte Crowl (Guest, Episode 1)
Luke Grenfell-Shaw (Guest, Episode 2)
Miranda Ashitey (Guest, Episode 3)
Dr. Philippa Kaye (Guest, Episode 4)
Toby: Every day, 34 people in their 20s and 30s are diagnosed with cancer.
Alice: On the 7th July 2015, I was one of the 34.
Toby: On 28th August 2008, I was one of the 34.
Alice: These are the stories of what happens afterward.
Toby: This is AfterThoughts
This series of AfterThoughts is created in partnership with Life Effects by Teva and supported by Trekstock.
Life Beyond Cancer: The AfterThoughts Wrap-Up Episode
Toby: Hi, Alice!
Alice: Hi, Toby!
Toby: Just feel like quite a long time ago since we got to do the "Hi Alice, Hi Toby."
Alice: Yeah, it does seem like a while, but always a pleasure.
Toby: I mean, we're saying that like we don't talk other than on AfterThoughts when we do quite a lot. Alice and I just constantly send cat pictures to each other with quite a lot of cat puns, as well.
Alice: Yeah, like Fred Astaire. My cat's called Fred, and he likes to sit on the stairs.
Toby: It was not your joke, though. You stole that from your husband, didn't you?
Alice: Yeah, I did. I should have taken credit for it. Anyway, how are you doing?
Toby: I am all right, thank you, Alice. How are you doing with your dinosaur top today?
Alice: Oh my God, I love this t-shirt, because sometimes I look at myself and I think, "Alice, you look like a grownup," and then I think, "Don't worry. You wear dinosaurs on your t-shirt."
Toby: That is true, that is true. For those of you who have not listened to the previous series, this is an opportunity for Alice and me to kind of pull some of the moments from the series. I was going to say highlights, but the problem is that they're all highlights.
Alice: Too many!
Toby: So many good stories have been shared with us. But are you going to share a story from your summer, what you've been up to?
Alice: I think one of my highlights of the summer was when I went paddle boarding on the Thames in a very, very short but quite intense tropical storm. And then separately, when it wasn't raining, I managed to fall off from where I was seated. I was sat cross-legged on the paddleboard and managed to fall off. Says a lot about how clumsy I am.
Alice: Yeah. It was quite magnificent.
Toby: But somebody helped you on… and what was your tactic to get them to help you get onto your board?
Alice: Oh, no, it wasn't my tactic for them to help me get on, but I just explained I cannot get onto a paddleboard. I'm so weak in the old "chestal region" after having 10 surgeries - I cannot get onto a paddleboard without assistance.
Alice [Cont.]: Somebody I had just met, who was part of a wedding that I was at, had to literally yank me on by my buoyancy aid. And I was like, "Thanks, sorry, I can't do it myself because I have had a lot of surgeries on my chest because I had cancer once." So, yeah. But anyway.
Toby: It was important to know. I think I can understand why -
Alice: I was floundering around like a bloody useless woman, and I just felt it was important to clarify. But I love the wrap-up episode because I really like taking time to... Did you notice how quickly I moved on from being a vulnerable woman?
Alice [Cont.]: I really like the wrap-up episode because I love taking the time to reflect on the amazing stories we hear on AfterThoughts. And for me, I've loved all of the series that we've done, but I don't know. There's something really magical about series three. I've loved it, and I'm really excited to hear these stories that we've picked out again. And it was hard to choose them, but we did it. We cut it down.
Toby: That's right. And it's really a bit of a teaser, as well, for you to dive back into the rest of the episodes. And so, if you like the sound of one of our storytellers and what they're sharing, you can go back listen to all of the episodes in Series Three. But Alice, are you ready to... Shall we share our first highlight from series three?
Alice: I am so ready.
Toby: Next up is Those Around Us, and Alice and I have picked two stories for this section of series three and our reflection on that. And I'm putting forward Charlotte's story.
Toby [Cont.]: One of the things I loved about Charlotte's story for Those Around Us is what could be seen as the simple act from her mum of trying to find a way to help Charlotte, the daughter. And by going to the seaside and finding just kind of like a little moment of joy together, I think there's something really beautiful about this kind of act of going, "How can I make that person I care for, that person I love, feel a little bit better than they do today?". And Charlotte's mum chose to go to the seaside, Southend-on-Sea, to try and get some fish and chips.
Charlotte: So for me, before I was even diagnosed, I didn't even realize, but me and my family, it was almost like we were kind of living all our own separate lives. I lived with my mum, my dad, and I've one older brother and older sister, so I'm the youngest. And everyone was just kind of doing their own thing. Like I said, I was at college and just getting along with life. When the cancer happened, it really just made us all so much closer because you started seeing the value in the little things and just the value in spending time together.
Charlotte [Cont.]: And I went to my Christmas at the hospital. Actually, it was one of my favorite Christmases that I had because it was just the simplicity of it. But it was just so beautiful. And I think one of the main people I would say there was a great improvement in our relationship, is definitely my mum and me. We didn't have a bad relationship before, but I would say there was a lack of communication.
Charlotte [Cont.]: And when it got to the point where I couldn't walk, or I couldn't talk, and I couldn't do some things, my mom was my full-time carer. So you know that saying, I think it's, "Once an adult, twice a child." Well, [inaudible 00:06:38] three times a child, because when my body shut down, my mom literally had to do everything for me again, and we grew so close.
Charlotte [Cont.]: Luckily, she and my dad actually run a business, which allowed them the time out to look after me. But when I say she literally gave up her life and put her life on hold to help me out, the strength of how she coped... I never once saw her cry unless we were crying together. She was such a pillar. Such a tower of scope and confidence, and helping me get out of sticky situations or where I felt down.
Charlotte [Cont.]: There was this one day where we were at home, and she was working from home doing her paperwork, and I was sitting in this seat, and I was just kind of feeling a bit like, "I can't believe this is my life." I was sad.
Charlotte [Cont.]: And she was like, "Right, get up." She was like, "We're going to go on a drive."
Charlotte [Cont.]: And really and truly, I didn't really want to get up, but I was like, "Okay. All right, let's go." And I was thinking, "Where's she going to take me? Like, around the block or something?" And we got in the car, and we got on the motorway, and we just kept driving, and then we ended up in Southend. And it was a nice day, it was sunny.
Charlotte [Cont.]: And she was like, "All right. We're going to get some fish and chips." We couldn't find the fish and chips shop nowhere, the one that she wanted to go to, so we're just driving around. Then we actually ended up going back to where we live, which was in Essex [inaudible 00:08:24], at the time, and buying fish and chips from the top of the road. So we'd just gone all the way to Southend, but we ended up eating the fish and chips from the top of the road.
Charlotte [Cont.]: But it was just the thought that she had put into the actual thinking, "Aw, let me do something to cheer you up." I know there are a lot of people who don't have that support, but I did. I really had amazing support around me. And even with my friends, yes. And you'll hear a lot of people say, "Cancer will definitely show you who your friends are." And a few of the friends, they did drop off, but a lot of them, I actually got a lot closer to, and I'm still close to now.
Charlotte [Cont.]: And it's allowed me to meet some amazing people. And even the women within the Black Women Rising community, who are great support, and they understand the journey. It's just been kind of like a blessing to be aligned with so many powerful, amazing women, as well.
Charlotte [Cont.]: So yeah, the people around me, I would just say they are one of the reasons I could get through my journey, because of... When you don't have that strength, you know, but you can kind of pull the strength from others? They allowed me to lean on them in that way. So yeah, for me, that was an important part of my journey.
Alice: And staying on the theme of Those Around Us, we're going to a story from Philippa. When we had Philippa on AfterThoughts, she was the first parent we'd ever had on the podcast. And I remember being really struck by how she spoke about how cancer impacted her children. And I was also really struck by how she spoke about her determination, to be honest with her children about her diagnosis. And that's why I wanted to highlight this story for the wrap-up episode.
Philippa: Cancer comes for you in all the roles you play, and we all have lots of roles that we play, and my roles include doctor but start with mother. And, of course, cancer impacted my whole house, and it impacted my husband. But the people, I guess, that I was always most concerned about were my kids, and the amount of guilt that I felt added to my maternal guilt burden.
Philippa [Cont.]: And it took me a long time, actually, to understand that it wasn't my fault. But my husband and I have always had a policy of being honest with the children. That you can pitch things age-appropriately, but you can't lie. And so that means when they said, "How did the baby get in your tummy," or whatever else, I answer those questions.
Philippa [Cont.]: And so I said, "There's a bad ball of cells called cancer growing in my tummy, and the doctors are going to get it out."
Philippa [Cont.]: It means, though, that sometimes they ask you questions that are really difficult to answer. But in answering them, you have to deal with your own thoughts, but it also helps them deal with those. So:
Philippa [Cont.]: "Are you scared, Mummy?" / "Yeah. I'm scared of being in pain." / "Are you going to die, Mummy?" / "I'm going to do everything I can to not. I don't know." / "Do you promise to be at wherever?" / "I'm going to do my best, and if not, someone else will come. Daddy will come. Grandma will come. Someone will come."
Philippa [Cont.]: But what that means is that it allows them to express their fears, too. "Are you scared, Mummy?" /"No, I'm fine! Nothing to be scared of," means that they can't then say that they're frightened. So, "Are you scared, Mummy?" / "Yes, I am. I'm scared of being in pain," means that they say, "I'm scared, too." And you can't fix it because I couldn't fix my own fear.
Philippa [Cont.]: I still can't fix my own fear. But what I can do is sit with you in it, and we can be scared together. And your kids, my kids, anybody out there with kids or not with kids, we can do hard things, but they're easier to do when we don't feel alone.
Philippa [Cont.]: And then my kids' play got dark, shall we say. So, very young children learn through play, and role play, in particular. So my youngest was four, and "mummies and daddies" at nursery, she didn't want to play that. She would play, "Let's play our mummies are dead. Let's play our mummies have gone away," because that's her way of working through it. And her nursery teachers were really good because they understood that. Other kids' mums didn't because it was hard.
Philippa [Cont.]: And yeah, it was hard for me to hear that's what she's playing, but that's what she wanted to play. And then children, up until about sort of seven, eight, have what's called "magical thinking," where they think they can control things. And they believe in the tooth fairy, and they believe that things like, "I was cross with mummy, and I wanted her to go away because she made me clean my bedroom... Look what happened. She went."
Philippa [Cont.]: And having an understanding of that was definitely useful for me because I could pre-empt those conversations and say, "You didn't make this happen. No, I didn't make this happen. No one made this happen."
Philippa [Cont.]: And then my middle son would say things like, when I came home from hospital, he would say, "I think I'd be okay, Mummy, if you died, because I was okay when you were away for a week, or two weeks. Daddy managed. It wasn't as good." Or, "It was different, but he managed, and Grandma came, and I think I'd be all right." He's not trying to hurt me. He's trying to reassure himself. He's trying to prepare himself for a reality that none of us wants to happen.
Philippa [Cont.]: And so you have to say, "Yes, darling. There are lots of people out there who love you. Yes, you'll be okay." But then he leaves to Bremen, that one, you know, got a big whale? And then, even when you think it's over, I didn't say to my kids, "After chemo, it's over," because I didn't know that.
Philippa [Cont.]: And I'm very glad because they found something straight away. And then it was always a case of we're waiting, we're still doing, we're still having treatment, we're still having treatment. And then, even when they said to me, "We've got it," after that last big surgery, I didn't promise my kids. I still haven't promised my kids. And when I went to have my first set of scans and scopes, which were clear, which were at the end of February this year, I said, "The cancer's not there now. Mummy's okay now," because that's the promises that I can make.
Philippa [Cont.]What I have to learn now is how to plan for the future. Now I've been given that message. And to allow them, I guess, in some way, to do that, too. But when my book arrived at home, because when you're the author, you get copies in advance, and my middle son said to me, "Can I read it?"
Philippa [Cont.]: And I said, "There's nothing in there that's a secret, but I think that you might want to wait until you're older because there are some bits that feel hard because there were times which were hard." And I said that "If you want, you can look at the pictures in the middle, they're all pictures you've seen, there is Mummy when you've seen her in all of these stages. Then read the dedication," I said.
Philippa [Cont.]: And he said, "Oh, not now," because it's dedicated to my three kids. He said, "Not now."
Philippa [Cont.]: And we ate dinner, and out of nowhere, I was reading to the next kid, to my youngest one, before bed, and I'd forgotten about it, and he hadn't. And he'd gone, and he'd looked at the pictures, and he'd read the dedication. Then he started to read the end.
Philippa [Cont.]: And, at the end of the book, there's a letter to my kids, just in case. Just in case I didn't survive the surgery. And he had flipped through the book and come to that and read, and he came in in tears. And I thought, and that was only a couple of months ago, and I thought, "Oh, gosh, I hadn't prepared him or me for this."
Philippa [Cont.]: And he said, "Where's that letter? That's my letter."
Philippa [Cont.]: And I said, "No, darling, that's my letter, and it was for me because I needed to write it." And I said, "And I put it in that book because I want people to understand what it's like to go through this, how you prepare for that."
Philippa [Cont.]: And I said, "But I also put it in that book because this whole book, in some way, is a love letter to you and your siblings, and that the reason that I did everything was for me, but for you. And this letter says how much I love you. And it can never say how much I love you, but that's what it plans to say." And I said, "But you get to read it with me sitting next to you, and how lucky that makes you."
Philippa [Cont.]: And he was crying, and he didn't know why. And I didn't even know why. And it was being overwhelmed, and being relieved, and being frightened, and being loved. And our kids, just as we experience all of those things going through cancer, our kids experience them, too. And just as you are changed, they are changed. And it doesn't mean that it's bad. It just means that it is.
Toby: Next up on AfterThoughts, we have the Lost Conversations section. And we have chosen Luke's story for this section.
Toby [Cont.]: I just decided to have a little quick look to see where Luke has got to on his cycle from Bristol to Beijing, so I jumped on Instagram, which I'm not very good on at all, and found that he is currently in Bristol, as he is having a perfect little break. I think a deserved break.
Toby [Cont.]: Last, he was in Tajikistan and will be flying back to Pakistan to continue his cycle to Beijing. But before we see him continue that, let's jump into his story in Lost Conversations.
Luke: Thanks, Toby. So I really want to talk about exercise and diet. And the day that I was diagnosed with cancer, I was kind of like, "I want to try and do something to help myself. This sounds pretty bleak, but you know, I tend to know that, at least personally, going for a run makes me feel better."
Luke [Cont.]: And so I spoke to the doctor and the nurses, and I was like, "You know, so should I be trying to do some exercise? Should I be thinking about what I put into my body, you know, avoiding certain foods? Should I be making sure I get out each day for a walk or a run or something?"
Luke [Cont.]: And they were like, "No, just do what you want, really. You know, it doesn't really make a difference either way," is basically what they said.
Luke [Cont.]: And I was like, "Are you kidding me? I know how much exercise helps me, and you're telling me it doesn't matter? I do not agree with this." And I'm really glad that I didn't take their advice to heart.
Luke [Cont.]: And I understand where they're coming from. When you go through chemotherapy, you feel really rubbish. Telling people that they should be doing more activity on top of just kind of existing seems like a really tall order. But for me, I think that the benefits of exercise are just enormous, and I think they're both mental and physical.
Luke [Cont.]: And I think there's something really powerful in doing something that you know will help you, even in a small way. So knowing that you're pushing yourself to go out for a walk, or just go up and down the corridor a couple of times a day - just a little more than you would otherwise - it means that you're sort of taking control of your situation and doing something that's kind of proactively helping you. You're getting you to see slightly different things; you're not just stuck in your room.
Luke [Cont.]: And I think that's a really important part of taking control, but also reasserting your identity as not just a patient. Because it's so easy to think that. When you go to the hospital, when you've got a chemo drip stuck in your arm, when your temperature is tested, and your urine is taken, you just become an object.
Luke [Cont.]: And for me, it was a way of kind of reclaiming that, actually, I, Luke, is someone who does things for himself because he decided to do them, rather than letting everything happen to him and be very passive. But I also think there's a really important sort of physical side to this. That actually, an increasing amount of research is coming out and saying that exercising through chemo, through radiotherapy, makes it more effective and makes you less tired.
Luke [Cont.]: And so even though it's kind of the last thing that you feel like doing, it's so, so important. And I try to go for a walk every day. You know, I was in the hospital for four days at a time. I was connected to a chemo drip, sometimes just saline, for 20 hours out of every 24, so I had four hours off. And I would always try and just get out, even for a short walk.
Luke [Cont.]: I always brought my bike into the hospital, and I had it connected to one of those indoor setups so I could cycle in my room, and sometimes I use that, as well.
Luke [Cont.]: And it wasn't too hard, it wasn't for long, but it was more than nothing. And to me, that is the real, like, take-home message of doing a little bit more than you would otherwise. Because it's going to help you mentally and physically just cope with the treatment a little bit better.
Luke [Cont.]: And I think this will become increasingly part of how we treat and sort of "prescribe" getting through chemotherapy and radiotherapy and having the best outcomes. And when I did it, there weren't any guarantees. I did not know what was going to happen. I more likely heard it probably wasn't going to make any difference. It's about taking those steps to give yourself the best possible chance of getting through, which I think is so important. And so I just was very glad that that happened.
Luke [Cont.]: And yeah, about the diet, as well, when I got into the chemo ward, I was just amazed that there were fizzy drinks, there were crisps and cakes, and I was like, "How is this going to help your body?" And I know that, again, when you're going through a pretty rough time, you're not going to necessarily want to eat kale, but I think it makes a huge difference.
Luke [Cont.]: And I know this as doing sport, and just from turning vegetarian and then vegan, it makes your body feel better. And that, to me, is always the motivation for this, is cooking the food in an interesting way with spices and herbs, it makes it exciting. And I think it's also just really important in terms of how your body can cope with things like chemo and radiotherapy.
Luke [Cont.]: So those are my sort of two things that I'm trying to wave the flag for and get doctors' advice to change a bit because it's going to help.
Alice: I love that. I think there are a couple of really good things that kind of jumped out to me there: the idea of more than nothing when it comes to exercise. I think that's such a great jumping-off point because I think it's so easy to become overwhelmed by the thought of exercise when you're in treatment. But more than nothing is such an easy way to kind of quantify it.
Alice [Cont.]: Trekstock has a really fantastic program that they run. Obviously, Trekstock is supporting this series of AfterThoughts. They have an exercise program called Renew, which we just want to give a quick shout-out to.
Alice [Cont.]: Renew is an exercise program run by specialist cancer rehab trainers. They basically help young adults get moving again after cancer treatments. And it's basically exactly what you were saying, Luke. They have done loads of research into the fact that cancer can help you feel better… no, not that… that exercise... They've done loads of research that proves that exercise can help you feel better when going through cancer treatment. And also, I worked with Trekstock on a resource about food and cancer treatment. It's a really, really useful guide for anyone who's feeling overwhelmed by all of the conversations about nutrition and cancer.
Alice [Cont.]: So, just a couple of shout-outs there for Trekstock and the resources that they have available. But yeah, just the idea of more than nothing really struck me.
Alice [Cont.]: Now we're going on to Not Your Average. And I really love this section because it gives us such an insight into the struggles that young adults who are diagnosed with cancer have that their peers will just never have. And none more so than this story from Miranda, where she talks about her fertility preservation experience.
Miranda: So, I did the Great North Run, my first Great North Run, in 2014, which was a bit of a year because my dad had died. And actually, doing a half marathon was really good for my mental health. Actually came off antidepressants at the time, and then my dad died. He died in February; he was buried in June. I found the lump in July and got diagnosed in August.
Miranda [Cont.]: During that time, I was training to do the Great North Run. I had a personal trainer and still wanted to do it. So it's in my medical notes that I did the Great North Run, which was amazing. Because that was one of the questions they asked, they were like, "Okay, so you've got cancer. Have you got any questions?"
Miranda [Cont.]: And I was like, "Okay, so I've been training to do a half marathon. Can I still do it?"
Miranda [Cont.]: And they were like, "You're a little bit crazy, aren't you? Okay, you seem to be fit, so you can still do it."
Miranda [Cont.]: So that was on a Sunday. I did it in two hours, 33 minutes, 22 seconds - I still remember. That was on the Sunday. On the Monday, I came back from Newcastle, back to London. At that time, I got a phone call saying, "Right, okay. You can see the facility doctor on Tuesday. There are a few issues that we need to talk about. Are you in a relationship?"
Miranda [Cont.]: I said no, he said, "Right, we need to talk about this because of issues."
Miranda [Cont.]: And I was like, "Right, okay."
Miranda [Cont.]: He said, "There might be an issue where you need to pay for funding."
Miranda [Cont.]: And I was like, "Right, okay. So I'm being penalized for being single. Right, okay. Let's talk about this on Tuesday."
Miranda [Cont.]: So I saw the facility doctor on Tuesday; it was a bit weird. He was lovely. I had to have a camera shoved up my chuff while he looked at things.
Miranda [Cont.]: And then that's when I found out I've got polycystic ovary syndrome because he was like, "Oh, your ovaries look a bit large. Yeah, you've got PCOS."
Miranda [Cont.]: And I was like, "Right, so as well as cancer, I've got PCOS. Great! Okay."
Miranda [Cont.]: So they were like, "Okay, so we can extract your eggs, but because you've got PCOS, your cycle, obviously, isn't as regular as normal people. So we're going to have to wait about a month until we can extract the eggs and then have them frozen. Now, at this moment in time, you've told us that you are single, you're not in a relationship, so we can extract the eggs, but they are more viable if they are fertilized. So you would have to pay for a sperm donor."
Miranda [Cont.]: I was like, "Right, okay. That's fine. They had done complete orbital on what's available on the NHS, that's fine."
Miranda [Cont.]: "When you want to use the eggs, then when you have them unfrozen, you would have to pay for that, as well." And I was like, "Right, okay. So if I was in a relationship, I wouldn't have to pay." / "No, you wouldn't have to pay." / "So I'm basically being penalized for being single." / "Pretty much, yeah."
Miranda [Cont.]: I was like, "Right, okay. There's nothing I can do. That's how it is with your health authority." I mean, I could have asked for a second opinion, but many things were going on my mind at that moment in time. So I was like, "Right, okay. Let's just deal with that."
Miranda [Cont.]: And then that was on the Tuesday, so I saw the oncology team on the Wednesday at the Royal Marsden. And they were like, "Okay, so we've had a look at your cancer. Your tumor is grade three, which is the worst type of tumor you could have; it's very fast-growing, it's very aggressive. And basically, you should have had chemo last month. That's how bad your cancer is. So there's not enough time."
Miranda [Cont.]: And I was like, "Right, okay. I've got to think about things now, rather than an alternative life." It's not Back to the Future with Biff, [inaudible 00:31:22]. I have to think about what's going on now, not an alternative. And what's going on now is I'm single, I'm not in a relationship, I need to think about how things are going to impact me straight away, think about the present.
Miranda [Cont.]: So I was like, "Right, okay. There's not enough time to have any eggs frozen or extracted. Let's just go ahead with whatever you're doing."
Miranda [Cont.]: And they were like, "Okay, so it's Wednesday today, we'll start chemo tomorrow," on the Thursday.
Miranda [Cont.]: So, I was going from doing the Great North Run on the Sunday and then starting chemo on the Thursday, which was September 11th, which is another great anniversary to have. And then I put that on my Facebook because people were like, "Oh, it's so great that you've done the Great North Run, you've done it in a great time, oh, you're so amazing."
Miranda [Cont.]: And then I was like, "By the way, I've got cancer, and I'm having chemo today." And everyone was like, "What? But you've just done a half marathon, and you're having chemo. What? What?" And I was like, "Yeah, but just wanted to keep things a bit quiet, and then just tell everyone rather than just tell... I told a few select people because I wanted certain people - best friends - to know."
Miranda [Cont.]: The fertility situation is difficult because, obviously, my health trusts, and they've heavily cut IVF because they need to save money. It depends on where you are in the country because I'm in Croydon, and it is a postcard lottery at the end of the day. And as well as that, it's being able to be told that you're eligible for stuff.
Miranda [Cont.]: I know people who didn't even know it was an option. It was like, "Oh, I've got cancer, that's it. Having biological children is not an option." Fertility is an issue that cancer patients have to consider and think about that not necessarily other people would have to consider and take for granted.
Toby: So Alice, there we are. That is the wrap-up episode.
Alice: Wasn't that just a lovely little walk down memory lane?
Toby: Well, it was. And I mean - thinking about when we recorded these episodes and where we are now - it's been fantastic to be sharing these with the listeners over the last... Well, the last seven, eight weeks, two months, so that people can hear the great stories that we have been collating.
Toby [Cont.]There have been little moments throughout the series that highlighted the humanity of our storytellers because we're a podcast that tells the stories of people who have experienced cancer. They may still have cancer, they may be beyond their cancer treatment and living with the aftereffects of that, but we are telling human stories.
Toby [Cont.]: And there has been so much humanity around this series. It's just been beautiful to capture about what young humans, how they respond to experiencing trauma at an early stage of life, their formative years, in ways that it's kind of sculpted them. And so we've had some really powerful stories. We've had moments which have kind of made us really giggle, and moments that really hit us in places which... Yeah, that's the thing of bringing these people together, and it takes us in places you don't expect, as well.
Toby [Cont.]: It's just been those magical moments of meeting and speaking to humans like... Again, I go back to Charlotte's episode, right at the start, the first episode, telling us about her mum taking her for fish and chips. And for me, there's just so much humanity in that. We all connect to those moments when we're feeling low and somebody does something beautiful for us. And Miranda telling us about her love for Jon Hamm. Come on! This is what humanity is behind the cancer diagnosis.
Toby: Aw, yeah. That's been my afterthoughts on this series of AfterThoughts. Alice, right, over to you. What have been your afterthoughts on this series?
Alice: Do you know what? I think this series of AfterThoughts has come at a really pertinent time. I don't know if it's just... I mean, it's not just in the breast cancer community. But there has been a lot of loss in the breast cancer community recently, and it has been a pretty dark time for the breast cancer community.
Alice [Cont.]: But I think one thing that I have seen continually, again and again, and again is the power of storytelling unites everyone through that loss. Jen Cronje, who is a massive part of the Black Women Rising community, was a huge advocate for telling her story and being present. She shared her experience so that other people didn't find themselves in the situation that she found herself in, where she had late-stage breast cancer.
Alice [Cont.]: And I think it's just about... I think the power of narrative is really important because it can just do so much. It can make people feel less alone, reduce isolation, and unite people in such an incredible way.
Alice [Cont.]: And I think that's one of the great things about AfterThoughts, you know? Not to toot our own horns, not to blow our own trumpet, whatever cliché you want to use, but that's what storytelling is about for me. It's about bringing people together and sharing experiences, and I think there's real power in that. And that's why I love doing what we do.
Alice [Cont.]: That's why I've felt such a connection with these people who've been so incredibly generous with us. They've just shown the real tapestry of experience that comes with life after a cancer diagnosis, you know? It's not like you see in films, necessarily; it's not like you see on telly. It is multifaceted and varied, and the more stories we can tell, the more people's expectations of what cancer looks like will change. And I just think that's a really important and powerful thing.
Toby: Yeah, I was thinking about this as I was writing something for us at Beyond. It was the difference between changing the narrative and evolving the narrative because I think that's... I've talked in the past about wanting to change the cancer narrative for young people.
Toby [Cont.]: And actually, I don't think it is about that because I think there are so many brilliant people who are finding ways to share narratives and things. And it's just about continuing to layer it up, continuing to evolve it to mean that... [crosstalk 00:40:43] I loved what you just said there... that "tapestry" and our narratives. Let's hold onto that. That's a keeper, that.
Toby: I mean, it's very old-school. That's probably back to my level of social media.
Alice: It's the Bayeux Tapestry of cancer narratives.
Toby: That's it. I think our storytellers... Let's give a shout out to Lauren, to Karen, to Charlotte, to Philippa, to Luke, to Miranda, to Ryan. It's just been so great to...
Alice: That's me clicking my fingers, doing some snaps, like I'm playing the castanets.
Toby: I think we talked about this: when we've been looking ahead, as well, and when we've been talking about what's to come with AfterThoughts, and we'll mention that in a second. But I think as we look at this, I think if you've been listening to AfterThoughts and you've heard the stories, but your narrative isn't there yet, we want to hear from you.
Toby [Cont.]: We want to hear those stories and give you the mic so you can have your platform to share your narrative with the community. We can continue to evolve the cancer narrative in this country and beyond, we hope.
Alice: 100%. If you don't hear your story on AfterThoughts, and you want to, please do get in touch with us. We really, really want to hear from you. And we're really excited about what's to come. We have another series lined up. We'll be back very soon with a new series of Teenage Years, and oh my goodness, am I excited about the storytellers we have got lined up for that.
Alice [Cont.]: I buzz off The Teenage Years, man. If the future is in their hands, I'm excited about it. But yeah, just to go back to this series, a massive shout out to our supporters and the storytellers for making this series happen. We couldn't have done it without them. And a big thank you to you for listening.
Toby: And how can our listeners help us kind of continue to have this platform and continue to have a space for storytellers to come and share their stories?
Alice: I love the way you're like, "Alice, can you do this bit," without saying, "Alice, can you do this bit?"
Toby: Oh good, did you get that? That was good, wasn't it? [Inaudible 00:42:56].
Alice: If you love AfterThoughts, we would really appreciate it if you could rate and review us on whatever platform you listen on. I know that you can definitely do it on iTunes, and I think you can do it on other platforms, as well.
Toby: iTunes. Isn't that…
Alice: On the podcast app.
Toby: Even I knew that! Geez.
Alice: I know that you can definitely do it on the podcast app, and I think you can do it on other platforms, as well. Because that just helps other people find us. And the more people who find us, the more people who listen, and the more likely we are to get another series after The Teenage Years.
Alice [Cont.]: So if you like what we do and want to hear more of it, we would really, really appreciate that. And as ever, you can find us on all of your social platforms as "AfterThoughts34".
Toby: Lovely. Well, it's just time to say thank you so much. Thanks very much to you, Alice-May Purkiss.
Alice: Thank you to you, Toby Peach!
Toby: A bit of singing, very nice. So thank you very much to everybody. We look forward to being in your ears again soon. Check back on all of the episodes on the podcast, and yes, we look forward to seeing you soon!
If today's episode of AfterThoughts has brought up any thoughts or feelings that you'd like to speak to someone about, we really recommend grabbing a cuppa with a friend or dropping them a message. There are tons of charities out there who can help you if you've been through cancer and need a bit of extra psychological support.
Thanks so much to Trekstock for supporting another series of AfterThoughts. Trekstock helps young adults diagnosed with cancer get moving again after cancer stops them in their tracks, and their work is incredible. Find out more at Trekstock.com.
This episode of AfterThoughts was created in partnership with Life Effects by Teva, an initiative shaped by patients for patients to help those with chronic illness live better days. Find out more and read articles written by those living with and beyond cancer at LifeEffects.Teva.
NPS-ALL-NP-00534 FEBRUARY 2022