Currently I am lying exhausted but unable to sleep in my hotel room in London. Tomorrow/today now I am going to my last Young Persons Reference Group (think they have finally realised I’m not that ‘young’ now). I’ve been actively involved with the charity CLIC Sargent since 2011 after being supported by them in 2010 after my cancer-ish diagnosis. I’ve learnt a huge huge huge amount. It was a time in my life where everything changed for the better. I began to like myself and I got the help and support I really needed. Without the charity and the cancer I’d have been dead by now (but that’s another story). The charity fixed me in a way I never realised I needed it, my social worker was quite literally a God send.
I became involved at first because I felt I needed to give back… but it very quickly became so much more than that. It became a vocation and a passion. I’ve always wanted to help those who fall through the cracks and the voiceless but it’s only in the past few weeks I’ve realised that’s exactly what I’ve been doing with this charity over the past 6 years. I have been able to influence decisions and impact real change, not just in the charity but in politics, in other charities, in the health sector and within other young people.
I have experience that most people would kill for, my C.V is packed full of experience. However, more importantly my heart and my head are filled with fantastic memories and killer skills. I could be sad about this ending but I’m far from it… don’t get me wrong I’m dreading the moment reality hits that this chapter is over in this way, and the moment they say goodbye.
However, I’m hugely proud of all I have achieved over the past 6/7 years. I am participation (see UN rights of a child 12) queen- it’s in my blood now. I care passionately that children and young people have their voices heard in services and decisions that affect them. So much so I’ve just applied for a job to do just that (all be it very part-time). I’ve come to realise this week tho even if I weren’t to be selected tomorrow for said job, that won’t be a no it will just be a you need to develop yourself to be that desirable candidate for next time. I finally have my purpose, I finally have my ambition again. I grew up wanting to teach but currently long-term effects mean that wouldn’t be achievable (yet- maybe one day). I know with all my heart this is what I am called to do.
At times my time on cypag/yprg/ participation group/outcome star has been tough. Along the way I’ve had a lot to deal with both in my life, the lives of others and the sad truth that cancer costs sometimes lives. I’ve lost more friends than any of my ‘non cancer’ friends my age. However, they become the voiceless I fight for- they become part of that reason your passionate about the cost of funerals, or bereavement support, access to trials or better services because you heard their social worker/Ysc or hospital failed them in some small way. For this I couldn’t leave those I’ve lost out of this.
I am so unbelievably thankful to CLIC Sargent because they challenged me and pushed me in ways thank you will never be enough for. I’ve got to be involved in huge projects like outcome star, the rebrand, cancer costs as well as fantastic events like the art exhibition with major donors, take over day, the trustee/senior team away days and staff conference. I was able to experience working for the charity with the internship programme which helped me see I love the charity sector. I can honestly say they are a charity that listens whole heartedly. For this I’m immensely proud of them.
7 months ago (or so) I had applied to be a trustee and in the same week was challenged by someone in my church that I needed to loose the cancer label and stop putting my identity in it. I was so angry at the time I didn’t see it like this. So much so I wanted to include it in the campaign in June #nofilter4cancer with the #iwishyoudneversaid (I’ll come back to this because I didn’t in the end). I wanted to be a trustee so much- I wasn’t selected and at the time it was massively painful for me. However, I knew they made the right decision and would make a great decision on who ever got it. I’d been a Christian about 6months at this point and I had prayed for it- but I also prayed that if those doors needed closing for them to close (but gradually).
6 months ago I was dreading July/August because I knew things with CLIC Sargent would be coming to a close (YPRG wise at least) and I had no idea if I’d be able to stay in Cardiff, I knew my benifits would also be reassessed too (still an ongoing process atm). I saw July/August as a cliff edge.
Fast forward to about 3/4 weeks ago… despite knowing I had moved on from cancer a long time ago (thanks to participation) I realised how right the person from church had been in terms of it still defining me and my conversations. Over the past few months I had stopped saying in response to the question what do you do? ‘I can’t work due to long-term effects from cancer’ to ‘I volunteer’. I changed the dynamic completely finally the next question wasn’t about cancer- it was ohh that’s interesting where? What do you do? I was finally able to talk about what I do rather than just why I can’t work. It may seem small but that for me was a huge realisation and turning point… now I’m thankful that person said what they did because it’s changed so much.
I would not have made a good trustee 7months ago (despite me believing otherwise then) my life was cancer, and yes the work I did/do with participation will always be awesome and different from that cancer life. I didn’t have what some of the other candidates had, I didn’t have any distance, I didn’t have the ability to bring new things to the charity- I’d become stale. I possibly wouldn’t have seen things in the way that those RIGHTFULLY selected did/do. (I did quickly get over the trustee thing so much I was able to help prepare one candidate for interviews). CLIC Sargent is in great hands with the trustees that have been chosen to represent young people (whilst also being trustees in their own right). I get the pleasure to call these people not only role models but my friends too.
I am now looking forward to what the next season in my life has for me. I am growing in areas I NEVER thought I would. I am a better person today than I was yesterday. I am always growing and CLIC Sargent began that in me.
My journey to today has been long, but powerful. I know that participation and CLIC Sargent is where it is today partly thanks to my involvement. I honestly can’t thank the staff and other young people involved enough- without them I wouldn’t be who I am today. I don’t want to say Goodbye but it’s not that by any means because I will always be CLIC Sargent and I hope to still be involved in other ways so I’m sure you’ll all see me again. #cantgetridofWen THANKS for literally everything you guys were the people that made me- me.