On 4th April 2017 I joined the fellow founders of the Cancer Coaching Community (CCC) for the launch event in sunny but chilly Kensington, London. The bright and spacious conference room hosted 75 attendees and 9 founding members to discuss what the Cancer Coaching Community (CCC) is and how we believe it can support people following a cancer diagnosis. Attendees ranged from survivors, clinicians, consultants, oncologists, charity leads, speakers, coaches, nurses and hospital coordinators.
We heard, following the event, how they’d enjoyed the range of presentations and the engaging debate that this emerging community (or organisation? We’re not sure yet!) raised.
I was honoured to speak as part of the launch and a number of people raised the point that the speech was raw, honest and required in order to set the tone of where the idea behind the CCC came from, who it aims to support and what the plans for it are at this early stage.
The full launch video will be available soon. In the meantime, to watch my (slightly wonky) live speech, click here for the live video.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer to read my speech, here it is below, and then head over to the CCC link underneath to find out more.
Cancer Coaching Community Launch Speech – Emily Hodge
Many of you here will have experienced cancer, seen a loved one, friend or neighbour go through it, or be supporting someone in a clinical or medical setting that you work in.
I don’t need to remind you of the devastating impact it can have
Not just on the person going through it, but by all those around them too, as Jackie has just highlighted.
One of those was me a few years ago, when I was diagnosed with bowel cancer at 30.
Working in the NHS at the time, and having just got married and newly pregnant this was most definitely not part of my life plan.
Cancer saw to it that mine and my families’ lives changed and was turned upside down from that moment.
You can’t run away from a diagnosis of cancer – all the battle, facing bravely and fighting words are clichéd and frustrating
but we understand they’re there because it’s a forced sense of action and behavior,
with the lack of control and few desirable choices one has to make.
But when it’s over, if indeed it’s over, we forget we have choices.
We’re weakened in confidence and self-esteem.
We want to be like our old selves again and acknowledge the strength we now have, potentially building up within us.
The people I work with in a coaching capacity find this too.
They come with hopes and dreams just like many of us, but the jolt of their own diagnosis tried to shatter them – a little or a lot.
They come with anger and fear and don’t always know how to process that in a way that’s healthy for them – at least healthier than it’s being processed now
They to want to gain understanding, control and a life again – a life after cancer that they can move on from and with.
I work with people now to support them to move forward from cancer.
This was inspired by three things.
First, my health psychology background in the NHS which saw me supporting behavior change programmes and understanding healthy lifestyles.
Second, this personal experience of cancer and wanting to marry the two to bring a rounded view of this illness and use that to support others to develop their strategies, ideas and goals.
Third: There are coaches for all sorts of areas of our lives, and thankfully coaching has become more mainstream in the last 10-15 years than ever before.
There are business coaches, wellness coaches, health coaches, fitness coaches (perhaps the original!), relationship coaches, diet coaches, clutter coaches, calm and meditation coaches – you name it there’s going to be someone who can coach you in it.
So why not cancer coach?!
Bridging the gap between the reality of the experience and where someone wants to be is how coaching can provide unique support in this complex health area.
Coaching for me isn’t just about using tools and techniques on people to watch their measured change.
It’s always been about truly listening and truly hearing what’s happening for a person, in the moment and helping them be with their experience and change it where necessary.
Coaching ends up being an enlightening conversation, one that provides them with hope, where they realise they just gave themselves that hope and is came from no-one else.
Coaching support and tools provide a space to explore the trickiest of options they might be wanting to take but not being given the space yet to explore them.
I feel privileged to get to see these changes and the wonderful outcomes
People arriving with anxiety symptoms that we work through bit by bit, to de-sensitise and to experience as a ‘living with’ situation
Those unsure of their focus for their lives, creating space to discover this, time to develop and test options, motivation to change and remove blocks and barriers
And enhancing a sense of community to bring people together so they are less isolated in their life after cancer.
This goes further, too.
They’re more likely to have good communication with those around them, enhanced by having a perspective on their reactions they may not have had before.
And, finally, the patient is empowered and stronger, and empowered and stronger patients an survivors are ones who fee more in control and make choices that are right for them
– in their work, family, fertility, relationships, friendships, energy, coping mechanisms, sleep, diet – the lot, and more.
So why am I and my clients excited about CCC?
By bringing together skills and abilities of a range of coaches who work with people affected by cancer and other illnesses, we are providing a platform of expertise like no other.
Our professional experience in working with people in health settings, with medical conditions and primarily cancer means we’re stronger as a group in understanding the impact of this disease.
Our in depth personal experiences also provide the back drop for empathy and understanding.
Not so one’s own cancer story becomes the relationship, but so the natural level of understanding of what someone has been through, shock, trauma, pain, loss, grief, could be unspoken yet understood.
Our aims for the CCC are
- Champion coaching for people affected by cancer
- Raise awareness of the impact of coaching in a cancer experience
- Improve coverage for support in life after cancer
Our mission and vision are embryonic but behind it at passionate people who’ve all been impacted by cancer in their own way too.
We can say words today and enjoy meeting each other – and please do this. But we also want to find ways to work together to achieve these aims. And maybe these aims meet your own personal agenda, or your professional values for where you work – amazing, talk to us today or after, because this is just the beginning.