Sharing your Cancer story to help others and make change 

Throughout my cancer journey I have embraced authentically sharing my lived experience to raise awareness about young-onset bowel cancer, parenting through cancer, and the gaps in holistic cancer care. Sharing my insights, views and ideas is now not only what I do – it is who I am. I am the nurse and mumma of two little men who became the cancer patient. I am the Awakened Mumma, who has a very different life mission post cancer (PC)!  

In the patient advocacy space, sharing your voice is a great way to help inspire others, and it is a way to move your great ideas and ‘bugbears’ into tangible actions. For me, sharing my story has also been a type of personal therapy. It is a way for me to process my thoughts on “WTAF just happened to my life”, and to make some sense of my cancer diagnosis.  

Here are some great ways for you to share your voice:

Sally Kriel at Parliament House advocating for equal access to cancer care for Australia's bowel cancer patients.
Sally Kriel at Bowel Cancer Australia’s #calloncanberra at Parliament House


1. Share Instagram reels or YouTube videos on your journey, with your key messages. Growing a following takes time, so don’t be disheartened about ‘slow’ organic growth. Remember to share content with purpose. Share about your life pre-cancer, how cancer has impacted your life and how life if different for you now. Share ‘what you wish you had known’, and what would have helped you during your journey. I regularly have people reach out to me to say “I didn’t even know that I had that question, until you shared your experience and advice”.  If you are looking for expert guidance, there are thousands of social media marketing gurus who can guide you in your content strategy. I highly recommend Emily Osmond’s, The Modern Marketing Collective Podcast, and  Tash Corbin’s Heart-centred Business Podcast to give you some ideas. Although you may not have a business, Emily and Tash share great advice around content development, sharing with purpose, and nailing your key messages.

2. Connect with journalists and podcasters who work in your field of interest. Take the time to get to know their audience and offer content that aligns with their values and purpose. You may even decide to start your own podcast! I highly recommend taking a look at the work of Maritza Barone and her ‘Guide Your Light Network‘ for advice on kicking off your own podcast. There are also a lot of great free resources to help you get started. Buzzsprout is just one of the many platforms that you can explore as a beginner.

Podcasting with other people who work in the same field.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

3. Write a blog article and share it with editors who have an audience interested in your personal story. For example, if you are a young mum with an important health message – share your article with the editor of a Parenting or Women’s Magazine. Remember that editors receive thousands of article submissions, so be clear on why your story will give their audience incredible value and is a ‘must read’. Don’t be afraid to follow-up on your submission. If you don’t receive a response after your first follow-up, it’s time to reset and move on to your next editor.  

creating blog articles and sharing it with editors who have audiences who are interested in your story.

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Consumer groups

  1. Join an advocacy group to learn more about the work that others are doing in your field. I learn something new about bowel cancer most weeks – from new treatments to how policy and national guidelines are developed. Being an informed and active advocate allows you to have a wider lens and perspective on current challenges and advances in your community. Networking and collaboration are keys to success. Help each other and work together on mutual goals and shared vision.
  2.  Ask your healthcare team or Specialist how you can join a local consumer group to advocate for change and healthcare improvements close to home. This is a great way for you to influence change on the topics that personally influenced your care. For example, you can share your story with your local GP network to raise awareness about the importance of timely diagnosis, or help your treating hospital design patient education resources.

Patience and Self Care

  1. This is perhaps my greatest tip! Remember that progress takes time, effort, and often a big chunk of vulnerability. It’s OK to take breaks and recharge. Often sharing your story can be an emotional experience and evoke painful memories. Sometimes this can even take you by surprise. My emotional trigger is always when I am asked to speak about how my diagnosis impacted my boys and my husband. I know that now, so I prepare for it. It is always a good idea to link in with a psychologist, counselor, or strong support network. A solid support structure and psychological safety are integral to your mental health and longevity in the advocacy space.

Having good support systems so that your mental health is taken care of ensuring longevity in the advocacy space.

Photo by Christina on Unsplash

2. From my four years in the advocacy space, I have learned that timing is EVERYTHING. A great time to share your story is in the lead-up to national awareness-raising months. For example, June is Australia’s bowel cancer awareness-raising month. Other great times will include if there is a national news story that resonates with your personal story.

However… don’t delay if you are ready. There will never be the perfect day to share – so take your time and share when the timing is right for YOU.

I hope that you enjoyed this article. Please drop us a comment below, we would love to hear from you.

The Awakened Mumma, Author of ‘A Woman’s Guide to Navigating the Invisible Cancer Load

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