Written by Lesley Lloyd, Product Manager of Patient Pathway at Healthcare Communications – October 2021

When I had finished my cancer treatment, I knew I wanted to do something to both give back to the NHS and the associated network that had supported me through diagnosis and treatment, but also to give a voice to the patient; something that is often forgotten about.

I initially contacted my local hospital and was put in touch with their Patient Engagement representative for Macmillan, Tracy, who suggested I attend their regular meetings. Whilst these meetings were attended by patients and local NHS acute trusts it didn’t feel terribly productive for me.

When I raised this to Tracy, she explained that Macmillan was always looking for ways to work with people who have been diagnosed with cancer to improve these types of sessions. She therefore put me in touch with Kate, Macmillan Primary Care Nurse Facilitator Lead, and that’s where it all took off.

Kate asked if I was willing to talk to their nurse practioners as they went through their training, to give them the patients perspective of what they were going through. The first session was held at the local hospice and although I was nervous, baring my soul was nothing compared to baring everything else that I had had to during treatment!

I was really surprised at the reception; feedback was really positive and the questions that followed were quite telling of both their own experiences as individuals, as well as practioners. The feeling I had as I walked away from that session was amazing. I knew that at least one person in the room would do something slightly different when interacting with a cancer patient which would result in them feeling better about themselves, their situation, or their outcome. It doesn’t get much better than that!

So the sessions continued, face to face until Covid hit and then it moved to virtual sessions, which I can happily report doesn’t detract from the experience. In the past, I would fit delivering my presentations into breaks between work meetings or use my annual leave to take the time off.

However, since my company’s recent acquisition by Cisco, I can now use their Time2Give benefit which allows me to take this time off separately from my annual leave and be fully ‘in the room’ with no distractions. Time2Give is a Cisco offering that encourages employee’s passion for community service, by allowing them to take up to 10 days per year, with pay, to give their time to a cause that matters to them. I can use this time to fully commit myself to supporting such a great band of health professionals who are so key to helping patients dealing with cancer. Not only that, but Cisco also donate financially to Macmillan to match the hours I give.

It means so much knowing I am making a small difference. But if we all give a little, it becomes a lot.