Our supporters Juliet, Johnny and Amanda went to the Britain Against Cancer conference and share their reflections on the day.

Thursday 3 January 2019      Policy and campaigns blog
some of our supporters

The Britain Against Cancer conference brings together politicians, charities and patients to talk about cancer policy. 2018's conference was held in early December at Methodist Central Hall in Westminster. The discussion covered many issues including progress of the cancer strategy, patients’ priorities, the future of cancer care, and NHS funding.

Three of our supporters joined us at the conference and here, they share their thoughts about the day.

Juliet

Juliet I’m Juliet, and I’m a campaigner for Breast Cancer Now and an advocate for patients living flat after mastectomy. I’d never been to the Britain Against Cancer conference and so was very much looking forward to it. My interest is mainly breast cancer, so I was keen to hear about the cancer strategy for the country, and to meet other patient advocates working with the many and varied cancer charities.

Sadly the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, was otherwise engaged on Brexit matters, so the first part of my interest went unfulfilled. The second part was fully covered as I managed to network with many patient advocates from different cancer charities. Another massive plus for me was that I met several people who I chat to regularly on Twitter.

There were two sessions that I particularly enjoyed, the first being an amazing and very emotional speech by Anita Brown who is living with Stage 4 bladder cancer. Her speech was raw and straight from her heart, and it resonated with me and my experience so much.

The second was the panel question and answer session, chaired by Nick Robinson. There was much discussion of staff shortages and how this affects patient care and moral. In fact, putting patient care at the forefront of future policy and decision making was a much-repeated theme throughout the day, and featured in most of the talks that I listened to.

Johnny

JohnnyI’m Johnny, a Breast Cancer Now fundraiser and patient advocate. Having been involved in the #55000Reasons campaign, which had been presented in person to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, the previous week (which I was sadly unable to attend), I was delighted to be invited to represent Breast Cancer Now at the Britain Against Cancer conference. 

I was really keen to attend the conference to hear from politicians, senior NHS executives, other cancer charities and patient advocates about their expectations for cancer patients from the forthcoming Long-Term Plan for the NHS. It was great to hear that the key aims of all the different parties are broadly the same – the themes of improved screening and better staffing (of diagnostic and nursing personnel) kept coming up throughout the day.

Unfortunately, events in Parliament meant that Matt Hancock wasn’t able to attend, which was a shame as I was really looking forward to hearing about his plans. But the ‘Question Time’ session hosted by Nick Robinson was really interesting, as were the short, sharp side presentations in between the main sessions that were held on a variety of themes including the use of new technology and research techniques in cancer care.

All in all, it was a really interesting day which gave me a great insight into the future of cancer care in the UK, and of course, it was great to catch up with fellow campaigners Amanda and Juliet! And huge thanks to Eleanor and Jenny from the Campaigns team for inviting and looking after us.

Amanda

AmandaHello, I'm Amanda, fundraiser and campaigner for Breast Cancer Now. I have been to the last 3 conferences and, knowing that the content of these was always of current importance, I wanted to hear the up-to-date progress of the aims of the government, the NHS, the pharma industry and fellow campaigners and those affected by breast cancer specifically, and cancer in general.

Overall, I felt the conference was better organised this year, ignoring the last-minute changes in the running of the events and absence of the Health Secretary, all of which was outside the organisers' control. The format of the Speakers' Stage was a great improvement on the long presentations, morning and afternoon, in the past: much slicker, a greater variety of topics and logistically simpler, in having these held in the same room.

Nick Robinson's chairing of the panel in the morning was excellent. His guidance allowed each speaker time to talk about their particular expertise, so that the audience left well-informed.

As always, the participating charities and organisations in the exhibition represented a broad spectrum of the sector. I was pleased to see that the attendance appeared even better than last year. Overall, the content of the day was varied, informative and positive. I certainly benefited from being a delegate and would hope to attend again in the future.

If you want to get involved in our campaigns work like Juliet, Johnny and Amanda, join our Facebook campaigns group: Breast Cancer Now Action Network.