Living with the 'c' word

by Mar 26, 2012 No Comments

Audrey Birt

Director of Breakthrough Breast Cancer

A week is a long time in a charity and I embraced last week tentatively. Less well than I wanted to be but determined to reclaim my life … but now I am feeling more human. The antibiotics have helped and the relief of a negative chest X-ray allowed me to let go of a growing burden of worry. I really hope it’s all behind me now. It’s been a relief to be able to make plans for when I’m off for my planned surgery.
I realise I am going to have to tell people why I am off. With my history, the suggestion of sick leave leaves people speculating on my demise. So no, don’t worry, not that but I am attempting to not have to wear a prosthesis and put all of this behind me. And one friend asked me, in typically direct style, “so, are you getting big ones”? Answer that!
No is the honest answer, but if pert is an option then my hand is up!
I had to pull out of some meetings around the constitutional debate this week due to workload demands. My role is to understand what the range of options might mean for people affected by breast cancer. Right now, it’s honestly hard to know. Devo max (is that not an antacid?), devo plus, indy max, indy lite, you name it, we have heard of it. But we have yet to understand or explore it all. At this stage, my biggest concern is will all the focus on the constitutional debate take eyes off the real issues important to the 4,500 women diagnosed every year in Scotland? How do we prevent the relentless increase in the number of women being diagnosed? How can we ensure earlier diagnosis?
Can we make personalised treatment and care a reality for everyone in times of economic hardship?
Maybe my most important role is to ensure these questions are not forgotten.
I recently read that Scotland rates 15 in the world on soft power – meaning, in Joseph Nye’s classic definition, “the ability to influence others through culture, values and ideology rather than threat, violence or other forms of coercion.” It struck me that in my role, I utilise soft power to influence change. It’s good news that Scotland measures so highly. I do believe we have a collective responsibility to retain and build on this. So those of us in the third sector have a very important part to play.
Reasons to be cheerful It’s light now when I am going to and from work and the signs of spring are plentiful. Happy days!

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