Supporting the

Neuroendocrine Cancer Community

I’m Polly, 68 years old. In a former life I was a Business Analyst and IT Project Manager. Taking early retirement in my late 50s, it was to be a venture into the unknown but what followed was not quite what I had in mind. 

So how I got here…. I’m a partner to Mike who was diagnosed in 2014 – following some very vague symptoms – with a primary in the small bowel and extensive metastases. Major surgery, a long recovery, followed by ‘stability’, and monthly injections. However, curved balls do have a habit of coming along to interrupt the ‘new normal’. Including: ‘Just because you have one cancer doesn’t mean you can’t get another totally unrelated one (btw now clear)’ and ‘Take your eye off the ball and the metastases decide to go walk about into your heart muscles’.  

During the past 10 years there’s been, both physical and emotional, highs and lows and everything in between. We’re still together, supporting each other with the invaluable assistance of a working black lab called Elder. And back to ‘static and stable’ for now.  

My role in this…. It isn’t easy being a ‘carer’. There’s been a steep learning curve, I can probably now add the following onto my CV: erstwhile expert, advocate, nurse, secretary, chauffeur, all round pain in the backside.  

I’ve coped. I’ve hit rock bottom. I’ve experienced compassion fatigue. Finding my way initially to Maggie’s at Newcastle for weekly Tai Chi and an 8-week mindfulness course certainly helped.  

When Neuroendocrine Cancer UK set up a Friends and Family Facebook group and corresponding Natter meetings it was just what I needed. It’s a hugely supportive group of people who understand the complexities of what we face. It’s a ‘safe place’ where we can raise questions and cover topics with Lead CNS, Nikie Jervis, we might not otherwise be able to ask.  

I’m a great advocate that we, as carers, have a responsibility to our own wellbeing. If we do not take care of ourselves how can we hope to care for someone we love.  

So yes, sometimes you have to put yourself first. It’s ok to insist on ‘me time’. It’s strange to think that I now have a creative side I didn’t expect to have, watercolour painting, photography and philosophy are part of the new me. 

So why become an Ambassador?…..Perhaps the following best sums it up; The opportunity to represent Friends and Family within the Ambassador’s group, and the wider audience, with advocacy for the sometimes unspoken role of the carer. 

March 2024